Tom Clancy has sold his name.
French video game giant Ubisoft said Thursday that it has agreed to buy all "intellectual property rights to the Tom Clancy name, on a perpetual basis and free of all related future royalty payments, for use in video games and ancillary products including related books, movies and merchandising products."
So, strictly speaking, Clancy, the author of megahit books like Patriot Games, The Hunt for Red October, and The Sum of All Fears will get to continue to use his own moniker in his personal life. And even on his books.
But when it comes to video game properties based on his work, and even, apparently, most other media, well, Ubisoft is his daddy.
Of course, Ubisoft has already been publishing a series of Clancy-branded games, such as the Ghost Recon series and the Rainbow Six series, but those were done under royalty arrangements.
Ubisoft didn't release the financial terms of the deal, though it did say in a press release that it expects to have a net cash position of 130 million euros ($201 million) at the end of fiscal 2007-2008, versus 150 million euros ($232 million) prior to the deal.
In addition, Ubisoft said it will make additional payments to Clancy in fiscal 2008-2009 and 2009-2010.
"On the basis of past performance of Tom Clancy-branded video games, and excluding any potential contribution coming from sales of ancillary products," the company wrote, "the royalty savings generated by this acquisition are estimated to have an average positive impact on Ubisoft's operating income of a minimum of 5 million euros per year."
To me, this is just bizarre. Maybe I've missed previous such deals, but I don't recall ever hearing of someone like Tom Clancy out-and-out selling his name like this. I won't liken it to selling his soul to the devil, because I'm sure Ubisoft is a perfectly nice organization, but it's an unusual situation to be sure.
But, Clancy probably saw the opportunity to get a massive amount of money up front and some substantial additional payments for the next few years and figured that there wasn't much downside. As noted above, Ubisoft is a major-league organization and has done well with its Clancy properties, so it's not like this will water down the Clancy brand.
With that in mind, then, I suppose I'll have to consider selling the rights to my own name. I doubt I'll command millions of euros, but you never know. Let me know if you're interested, and we'll talk turkey.