Would Hosted Games consider titles that the author has previously distributed commercially (as long as they are re-implemented in ChoiceScript and the author stops distributing them?)

The post title sums up the question, but I’ve included the following few paragraphs to provide a little more clarity on exactly what it is that I’m asking. Any answers from CoG or Hosted Games employees themselves would be especially welcome.

TLDR, I’m curious about the feasibility of an author writing a ChoiceScript-style game (without actually using the ChoiceScript language) and trying their hand at selling it themselves for awhile, and if they later decide that submitting to Hosted Games would have been a smarter option, porting it to ChoiceScript and publishing it through Hosted Games (which would of course mean that the author would need to stop distributing the game themselves).

More specifically:

  • The FAQ and the ChoiceScript license is clear enough about the rules for content developed in ChoiceScript. Do Choice of Games or Hosted Games retain similar IP rights over the broader genre of game – i.e., text-only, stat-driven chooseable-path adventures with opposed stats, relationship stats, etc. that had the general feel of a ChoiceScript game? In other words, if someone were to develop a ChoiceScript-style game but implemented it in some other programming language that is not ChoiceScript, would CoG be able to ask for it to be taken down from the Internet/Google Play Store/etc.?

  • Assuming that the answer to the above is “no”: It sounds like Hosted Games contracts give them an exclusive right to distribute content that they choose to publish. If someone were to be independently selling their own choosable-path type game on the internet, and was considering porting it to ChoiceScript and submitting it to Hosted Games, is that something that would be fine with Hosted Games as long as the author was willing to stop distributing it themselves (so that Hosted Games could become the new sole distributor)? Or would the fact that the game had previously been available for sale destroy its chances of being accepted by Hosted Games?

Thanks so much for any insights.

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I doubt it — there are several other languages to create similar, choice-based IF out there (like Twine or Ink) so COG doesn’t have a monopoly / copyright over the format itself, AFAIK. Pretty sure I’ve seen some Twine games with visible stats, too, so most likely that isn’t CoG-exclusive IP either.

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Only if it’s the same story. If the game is published through HG, the agreement will prevent you from re-publishing it anywhere else, even if it would use different script language or turned into paper form. The only option is to remove all choices, turning the story into a traditional novel. Not sure, though, what would be the exact process for cases if HG is the second publisher - would they refuse publishing the story altogether or would ask to take down other sources. But you still should be able to publish other games anywhere else, it’s not like the company has copyright over some specific features like stats page.

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For the first point: no. Choice-based text-based IF is a game/story format that precedes CoG, including the use of stats. Besides, as far as I kown, you cannot copyright/trademark UI layout. So if you go for general ChoiceScript aesthetic, but actually use other tech stack, and do not try to sell it as a ChoiceScript game or in any way link your product to the company, there shouldn’t be any legal ground against your gamebook. Obviously, seek some professional advice.

To your second point, iirc, there are some CoG/HG games that were previously submitted in competitions and publicly available. But I don’t know of any that had a commercial life before being signed to CoG/HG. This is something you’d have to negotiate directly with the company.

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Thanks! That makes complete sense, and after looking into it a bit more, it’s unclear to me whether something so general would even be possible to copyright.

(For others who may stumble across this comment - note that the situation is different for those who want to publish a game with CoG/Hosted Games but also want to sell the same game in another format at the same time – this is not allowed, see Riful’s response below).

Awesome - yep, that was my impression, but the quotes you’ve posted from Jason help confirm. Thanks :slight_smile:

Cool - that makes total sense. And really nice to know that CoG/HG has published pieces that previously appeared in competitions and had been publicly available, that was actually something I was wondering about as well. Thanks!

This is a special case for a select few games (ie Creatures such as we). Most need to be modified before being allowed to be published on HG/COG if it has been published somewhere in a comp previously (example: Scarlet sails which was lengthened for HG release.)

First you’d have to see if the previous commercial publisher has any ongoing rights to the story which is frequently the case. If they do, you will not be able to publish it here, regardless of if you withdraw it at the previous platform.

Secondly, you’ll have to email cog and ask directly, they’d have the final say.

I don’t know of any games that have been cut and pasted into choicescript being published, but I do know a book that was adapted (Donor) and published successfully by HG.

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Thanks - all very helpful. I’ll definitely drop them an email if I decide I’d like to go that route.

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OP, look up Avery Moore’s game Price of Freedom for an example of how this can work out.

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