If you’re reading this, you probably already know that eSports is a big deal. So, I’ll save you the usual spiel about its growth, its value as an industry, etc. and jump right into a very important issue: player contracts. These are agreements between the player and the org that set out everything from salary to intellectual property rights. Signing one binds you to the terms of the contract until it expires, so it’s best not to rush into it.
Contracts can be complicated. Let’s start simple and walk through three contract tidbits that you should think about before signing:
All contracts have clauses that govern your relationship with the org. The most obvious clauses are for salary and term or length of the contract, but other important ones involve your rights as a player: What is your commitment to the training and competition schedule? What benefits are you entitled to? Can you stream on the side? What promotional activities are you expected to do? What happens when the org hands out penalties or benches you? If you take away anything from this post, it’s this: Make sure you read and understand every single clause in the contract.
This is actually a subset of clauses in the contract, but they are very important and worth discussing on their own. Typically, the contract can end in one of two ways: the term of the contract has expired, or you or the org decides to terminate. For expiry, be aware of any clauses that might sneakily drag out the length of the contract, like team options to extend the term without your say. For termination, look to see whether you have the option to buy out (i.e., pay money to leave the team), under what circumstances the org can terminate, and what restrictions exist on joining another team post-termination. And for buyouts, check out the price of departure. The worst-case scenario is being stuck in contractual limbo where you want to leave the team but the term hasn’t expired and you don’t have enough for a buyout (and bonus, you could be benched indeterminately as punishment).
- Entire Agreement Clauses
These powerful clauses are tucked away at the back of the contract. Basically, an entire agreement clause means that the only enforceable terms are the ones contained on the pages of the contract. It doesn’t matter what an owner or a rep promises you in a phone call, an email, or even publicly on social media. If it’s not in the contract, it won’t be upheld. So, if there’s anything you definitely want out of the deal, make sure it’s included in the contract.
If you’re in talks with an org who wants to sign you, chances are you’re really excited. But don’t let that excitement get in the way of protecting your value as a player. Not all orgs are bad, but there have been plenty of horror stories of player contracts gone awry, leaving the player in an impossible (and unprofitable) situation. Before that happens, carefully read and think about what you’re signing. And if you need some guidance, give us a shout – we’re here to help.