The Specificities of Working with Licenses in Games: Devoted SpeakEasy with Emmanuel Valdez

Are you a fan of playing with Legos? You may be harboring brilliant ideas for a Lego-based or Marvel-inspired computer game, complete with other licensed concepts on your shelf. In such a scenario, insights from Emmanuel Valdez, Art Director at 2K Games, can prove instrumental in defining a development strategy and sidestepping potential legal pitfalls.

Ninel Anderson, CEO at Devoted Studios, has thoughtfully curated questions addressing key aspects you might inquire about when meeting Emmanuel. Join us as we collaborate with licensing companies to bring game concepts to life.

Brief Info About Emmanuel Valdez

Emmanuel Valdez – a seasoned Licenses & Brands Expert with three decades of experience in the gaming industry, boasts an impressive portfolio of games and diverse expertise from various companies. Below you’ll see a list of the games he’s worked on and the companies where he’s acquired expertise.

Devoted Studios: SpeakEasy22 with Emmanuel Valdez

He has been instrumental in setting up and refining art departments for companies focused on both mobile and console platforms, throughout his professional journey. One of his standout skills is harmonizing company licenses to ensure a mutually satisfying collaboration.

Notably, the game Lego 2K Drive, under Emmanuel's guidance, secured four nominations for the NVGTR Awards — and accolade affirming his adept navigation from game concept to market success tailored for a specific target audience.

How to Work with Brands Licenses?

Crafting games under license introduces unique challenges compared to conventional game pipelines, as each party sees itself as the primary driver in the development process. While the ultimate goal is to create an extraordinary game that amplifies the brand's popularity, aligning visions on what constitutes the 'best game' can be a delicate negotiation.

In the past, creative autonomy was more prevalent, but now, safeguarding your position is crucial. This necessity led Emmanuel to master the intricacies of licensing game development.

Explore Licenses

The initial step involves immersing yourself in the brand's universe by watching movies, playing existing games, and reviewing additional materials. This exploration aids in comprehending the characters and the interiors and exteriors of the envisioned game world. 

For instance, Emmanuel delved into multiple Jason Bourne films before embarking on a game project, contemplating how elements like a pirate hat or a mission on a Dutchman would fit seamlessly into the game.

This phase serves as a foundation for shaping your vision of the game and facilitates coordination with Brand representatives on potentially contentious elements.

Your game is a continuation of the story

Embracing the Transmedia effect, as previously discussed with Neel Upadhye, is vital. Emmanuel's experience affirms that creating a game shouldn't be an isolated endeavor; it should either introduce a new adventure or continue an existing narrative. Such an approach increases the likelihood of attracting a broader audience.

Emmanuel Valdez: Lego 2K Drive - storytelling in Game Dev

In the gaming industry, storytelling is gaining prominence, and brands, based on practical experience, are unlikely to grant licenses without a clear purpose. Therefore, weaving another chapter into the narrative becomes an opportunity to infuse fresh life into the game and secure a meaningful connection with the audience.

That's all?

Of course not. No more insights from Emmanuel Valdez in the YouTube video we posted below. Watch it to the end and you will know:

  • More insights about working with licenses in video games.
  • How to be an Art Director and a Co-Founder.
  • How to build a production pipeline on working with different Brands and more valuable things.

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