Licenses, Brands, and GameDev: exclusive insights from Emmanuel Valdez

In a recent installment of our blog, we had the pleasure of encountering Emmanuel Valdez, a “veteran” of the GameDev realm. Over three decades, he has amassed a wealth of expertise in navigating the intricacies of brand licenses and fostering deep connections with ART departments.

The conversation between Ninel Anderson (CEO of Devoted Studios) and Emmanuel Valdez (Art Director at Visual Concepts), drawing from their collective experiences at 2K, Midway, Sony, and Marvel, was an attempt to distill decades of insights into a mere 30 minutes. In light of this, we've curated the top five insights from the YouTube video for your convenience, ensuring they are readily accessible whenever you need them.

Tip 1. Research Brand Licenses Thoroughly

If you harbor ambitions of orchestrating the revival of a renowned franchise, meticulous scrutiny of brands and their licenses is imperative. Your narrative must seamlessly align with the essence of the license, embodying a logical extension thereof.

Consider, for instance, the iconic Lego toys, which steadfastly retain their immobility at the elbow joint. Hence, in a hypothetical Lego 2K Drive venture, such mechanical intricacies would not manifest. Similarly, the paradox of envisioning Jason Bourne brandishing a medieval weapon is a stark reminder. We advocate for unwavering adherence to the established parameters of the brand, ensuring each novel concept harmonizes seamlessly. This proactive approach mitigates the risk of unwarranted legal entanglements.

Emmanuel Valdez – The Bourne Conspiracy

Tip 2. Dedicated Professional Artist Commits Himself to Each Project

To derive genuine enjoyment from the process, one must wholeheartedly immerse oneself in the project's creation. It entails more than daily toil; it necessitates living and breathing each element, cultivating a profound connection.

In the case of Lego 2k Drive, the mission revolves around players constructing their personalized racing cars before engaging in adrenaline-fueled races. Emmanuel and his team meticulously refined this mission to a point where the entire squad derived palpable satisfaction from witnessing the fruits of their labor materialize in the exhilarating competition.

Tip 3. Ensure Full Team Involvement Prior to Commencing Building Processes

Thanks to the Internet and platforms like Flickr, one can swiftly locate suitable professionals for their team. However, such avenues may only yield a pair of hands devoid of the soul that imbues true passion and creativity. The essence of a project flourishes when the team is fully engaged and derives genuine exhilaration from the creative process.

For instance, if one lacks a genuine affinity for building with Lego bricks in real life, they may find it challenging to authentically channel that enthusiasm into developing a game under the Lego license.

Tip 4. Transmedia helps not only create games, but also configure the work of all departments

It's crucial to deconstruct large tasks into their most minor components when tasked with game creation. The Transmedia approach facilitates this by transforming tedious and repetitive processes into a comprehensive roadmap of the project. For a deeper understanding of the Transmedia effect, delve into the article and view the SpeakEasy#22 episode.

It was through the application of the Transmedia approach that the Marvel game was brought to fruition. One can truly appreciate the outcome simply by experiencing the game firsthand.

Tip 5. Maximize Your Freedom: The Essence of Brand License Collaboration

The cornerstone of effective brand license collaboration lies in clearly defining boundaries. Once established, one can fully exploit the freedom of action within those parameters. It's essential to recognize that licenses inherently impose constraints, yet these limitations can be improved. Instead, view each restriction as an opportunity to excel within the framework.


If you haven't had the opportunity to watch SpeakEasy, we wholeheartedly encourage you to subscribe to the channel and enable notifications. In the preceding text, we compiled the primary insights from Emmanuel Valdez. However, should you discover additional pivotal ideas, please share your thoughts or pose questions in the comments section below the video.