Optimizing Revenue Streams in Digital Gaming through Scalable Rights

Published 13. February 2024

Scale your intellectual property rights to increase monetization 

In this recent webinar held by FADEL and Qvest, we highlighted the importance of understanding your IP and how gaming leaders use this knowledge to grow their business. Explore the key takeaways below.

There is a lot of passion in the digital gaming industry, both from the side of digital game publishers, who are excited about their creations, and the side of the fans who are loyalists to their favorite games. This enthusiasm opens up a new set of opportunities for monetizing intellectual property (IP) in digital gaming in new, innovative ways. Tapping into unexploited IP rights can create dozens of new revenue streams while at the same time expanding your customer base. 

1. Understand IP in Digital Gaming

At its simplest definition, IP is what you have, and rights management is keeping track of what you can do with it. IP includes originally created brands and concepts or acquired brands and concepts, and rights management includes the rules and restrictions imposed on licensed IP that dictate how it can be used. 

In digital gaming, the brand is the game. But it’s also the characters, and the storylines, universes, and fan bases created around those characters unique to each game. This opens up opportunities to exploit gaming IP in creative and innovative ways by licensing in IP that could enhance the user experience and licensing out popular IP for use in a variety of ways.

2. Learn from the Industry Leaders 

Here’s how a few digital gaming companies uncover hidden opportunities to expand and monetize their IP:

  • Activision Blizzard King, publisher of Call of Duty, was acquired by Microsoft for an unprecedented $69 billion in 2023. Leading up to their acquisition, they had created brand partnerships for years that included in-game playable avatars with celebrity likenesses including Nicki Minaj, Kevin Durant, and Snoop Dogg. 
  • EA Sports, publisher of FIFA and Madden NFL, creates experiences where you can play as your favorite player or team and includes embedded soundtracks into their games. They have successfully managed the complexity around licensing in music rights to build brand value and are currently selling the Madden NFL 24 official soundtrack.
  • Bungie, known for their Halo franchise and more recently Destiny and Destiny 2, demonstrates how far licensing can go. They’re publishing Lore Grimoire books, collectible figurines, playable cards, cups, t-shirts, boots, stuffed plushies, stickers and pins. And even taking some of their original characters and turning them into rubber duckies. Bungie was acquired in 2022 by Sony for $3.7 billion.

3. Adopt a Platform to Alleviate Growing Pains

Licensing IP creates the potential for rapid revenue but there are also limitations and risks you might face as the licensing side of your business grows. 

First, remaining compliant to licensing commitments and managing larger volumes of contracts is beyond the scope of spreadsheet management. A rights management platform helps you manage all the terms, from format to region to timeframe, which can become complex as licensing takes off.  

A second factor to consider is visibility. A rights management platform provides a clear view of a game’s assets along with the associated rights. With the right granularity, companies can efficiently organize, categorize, and even model new ways to monetize their assets, making it easier to manage and exploit more effectively. Third, as your licensing business grows, there are significant process efficiencies, like automating statement notifications and quickly generating reports in the event of an audit. 

4.  Manage All Licensing in a Single Platform

When building a rights ecosystem, you want to build for growth to ensure you don’t limit yourself down the road. One key to enhancing your revenue is having a scalable platform that is not only capable of licensing content in, such as celebrity likenesses and music, but can license out content for new revenue streams. This could include gaming merchandise, in-game purchases, battle passes, downloadable content and other creative microtransactions. To maintain accuracy, all of the data associated with your IP needs to be housed in your rights management platform. Having a single system for rights management and royalty billing, reduces complications as you grow and provides the rights availability data needed for your next strategic direction.

Taking the time upfront to identify the attributes that go into your rights system is crucial to building a solid and scalable foundation. This includes identifying the different roles within your organization that interact with the IP along with how they use the system. Four important goals are: 

  1. Transparency. Having a clear idea of where you have been, where you are currently, and where you are going allows you to identify IP that is underutilized and see its full potential.
  2. Integration. In order for your rights management platform to work effectively, it needs to integrate seamlessly with your rights ecosystem, including your ERP, financials, deal management, product approval systems, etc. Siloed systems do not support growth.
  3. Scale. As you continue to grow, you want efficient rights management business processes and a system that will scale to ensure protection and continued monetization of your IP as data and transactions increase.
  4. Support. Choose a software and system implementation partner with a deep understanding of rights ecosystems who can strategize on tech and process improvements. Qvest companies can uncover revenue and growth opportunities.

5. Don’t start from scratch, use a proven model.

Companies tend to start with rights management as an administrative function. Though for growth and scalability, evolving into rights management as a core capability will net the greatest rewards. For video game publishers, IP is at the forefront. With Qvest’s IP & Rights Management Model, you can learn about the common stages our clients experience as they develop through their IP management journey.

A typical rights journey begins with adopting a system or set of systems that can automate trackers and manual processes that have typically evolved out of necessity. Slowly those systems are consolidated into an enterprise rights management solution. Once in place, it becomes the foundation for an integrated ecosystem, allowing any other systems to receive the information from a single source of truth. Once managing your brands and its rights becomes a core capability, all of your business teams and the technology that supports them are integrated. The true value of your IP is then fully utilized.  

What next? Learn more. 

See how this leading video game publisher used fan-favorite titles in new ways by licensing out their IP. Reach out to discuss how IP and rights management can help evolve your brands and drive new revenue streams.

This article was co-authored with FADEL with insights from Karen Karaja, FADEL Practice Director of Services, JD Feuerstein, FADEL Gaming Solutions Expert; Kavita Anand, Qvest Senior Vice President of IP & Rights Management, and Vivian Ho, Qvest Manager of IP & Rights Management.