Paradox Interactive has announced a new policy for indie developers who dream of creating games set in the World of Darkness tabletop setting. Through a (very limited) set of terms, developers can now create and sell independent games set in the world of Vampire: The Masquerade: 5th Edition.
The initiative is called "World of Darkness: Unbound." According to the licensing agreements, developers creating games set in Vampire: The Masquerade are able to earn a limited amount of money from these titles, and will retain some ownership over unique game assets that do not draw on the licensed intellectual property.
Before you rush off to turn your Vampire: The Masquerade fanfiction into reality, you should definitely stop and read Paradox's full licensing agreement. There are key terms that may make projects financially unfeasible.
It's important to know that the final product will be property of Paradox Interactive. Games produced under this license will only be sellable on itch.io, and Paradox Interactive will be claiming 33 percent of all revenue on each copy sold (that cut is larger than what Valve takes for original games sold on Steam).
Games can also be only released for free, or at the price point of $5.99.
Developers do retain ownership over unique assets created for these games not directly derived form the World of Darkness IP, but they also grant Paradox Interactive a "non-exclusive, perpetual, irrevocable, royalty-free, sub-licensable, and transferable right and license" for Paradox to use and exploit as it sees fit.
These games are also not able to be considered "canon" in the World of Darkness universe, and cannot use the phrases "World of Darkness" or "Vampire: The Masquerade" in their titles.
Paradox's terms are probably enough to ward off any indie developer who relies on game-making to the keep the lights on, but have plenty of appeal for hobbyist developers or smaller creators who just want to have fun in the World of Darkness setting.
It is interesting to see Paradox craft a kind of "user generated content" process for the World of Darkness brand. The company has a policy in place to help fans legally create and monetize content based on the tabletop world setting, but this expands its efforts into the world of video game creation. It feels parallel to the growing interest in user-generated content we're seeing in various Roblox-like titles, or how the cryptocurrency game boom wants to let players sell content to other players.
The World of Darkness brand has been going through one heck of a licensing roller coaster the last few years. Paradox has licensed the property to a number of game developers, leading to the development of a battle royale game, an upcoming RPG, and the much-hyped-but-now-scrapped sequel Vampire: The Masquerade - Bloodlines 2.