∞ Game developers association warns against Amazon Appstore

The International Game Developers Association’s (IGDA’s) Board of Directors have issued a strong warning to its members about putting software up for sale on Amazon’s new Android-based Appstore. The organization says that Amazon’s terms may ultimately have a “negative impact…on the game development community.”

[ad#Google Adsense 300×250 in story]Amazon’s Appstore has appeared recently as an alternative to the Android Market. It provides users of Android-based smartphones and tablets a way to purchase and download software for their devices, using their existing Amazon.com account information.

The Amazon Appstore has already made quite an impression on the Android software market and some developers have rushed to put their software on the service, but the IGDA warns that the terms and conditions take fundamental pricing controls out of the developers’ hands.

“Amazon reserves the right to control the price of your games, as well as the right to pay you ‘the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price.’ While many other retailers, both physical and digital, also exert control over the price of products in their markets, we are not aware of any other retailer having a formal policy of paying a supplier just 20% of the supplier’s minimum list price without the supplier’s permission,” reads the IGDA’s statement in a blog post.

The IGDA also takes issues with five other points that they cite as “potentially problematic:”

1) Amazon can discount software in its Appstore. 2) A requirement that guarantees Amazon a minimum list price that matches the lowest price on any other market. 3) The suspicion that Amazon will ultimately lead by example for other digital retailers, because of its clout. 4) and 5) Amazon can (and does) release games for free, or at a steep discount. While it attracts customers “it might actually represent a net loss for the developer” who loses out on revenue, and it may affect the marketability of a game with a niche audience.

The IGDA outlines steps Amazon could take to provide a more equitable solution for Android developers, but admits that it has neither the authority nor the inclination to “dictate how others conduct their business.” Still, the organization wants developers to go into a potential relationship with Amazon with eyes wide open.

“We respect Amazon’s right to stay the course, but as part of our mission to educate developers, we feel that it is imperative to inform the community of the significant potential downside to Amazon’s current Appstore terms. If you feel similarly, we urge you to communicate your feelings on this matter directly with Amazon.”

  • It looks like Amazon is regarding developers as suppliers to a product they own and sell. But even in this kind of relationship it’s not common that the product owner can impose how much he will pay his supplier.

    In Apple’s App Store the developer is Apple’s customer, giving Apple 30% of the sales price.

    In a way I think it devalues the developer’s work, because to Amazon the game isn’t the product, its application store it.

    • Anonymous

      Seems like you have it exactly. They are trying use the same loss leader rules that they did with ebooks. Buying them off you and then selling them how they wish. Trouble is that unlike ebooks there’s no guarantee of payment amount.

      Say what you want about the iOS store but at least you put the value on your stuff. And Apple is just going along with your plans. Aside from a few basic pricing rules you can do what you want

  • I think amazon is in trouble!!..

  • Anonymous

    Let’s not forget that as a developer, Amazon will drop you like a hot potato if you live in a state that wants to force Amazon to collect sales taxes. Illinois is already on Amazon’s blacklist and will not do business with vendors there. California is about to pass a similar law. And of course California being so central to tech development, that must be a large proportion of developers out there. (Not to mention the most populous state.)