Game Developers Warned Away From Amazon Appstore

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You’d think game developers would have rejoiced after Amazon launched their Appstore a few weeks ago–an Appstore putatively offering access to the Internet mega-retailer’s vast infrastructure, a devoted user base, and another distribution pipeline for those frustrated with the Android Market.

And while all that’s there, it seems like game-makers should beware jumping into Jeff Bezos’ digital download hub. The International Game Developers Association issued an advisory that ticks off a variety of ways in which developers can get screwed by Amazon if they put their games in Appstore.

(More on Here’s What Amazon’s App Store Could Look Like)

One of the main issues is how Amazon controls pricing and payment on apps. First off, Amazon reserves the right to set the price of any app carried on the Appstore. If you want your game on the Appstore, it must match the lowest price on any other download service. This means that if a game developer runs a special promotional sale over the weekend on Apple’s App Store, they have to run the same sale on Amazon. What’s more, it has to remain at the cut-rate price permanently.

(More on Apple Sues Amazon Over “App Store” Trademark)

Amazon’s payment stipulations for game app sales seem draconian, too. The wording states that they can pay the supplier “the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price.” Translation: After setting the price, they can essentially dictate how much profit a developer makes.

The whole argument laid out by the IGDA can be found here, but they sum it up this way:

The IGDA’s bottom line is simple: under Amazon’s current terms, Amazon has little incentive not to use a developer’s content as a weapon with which to capture marketshare from competing app stores.

Based on this argument, Amazon’s strategy seems predicated on amassing a bulk of content for competition’s sake, which could devalue the very apps developers are making. For all the flack Apple gets over its App Store, Amazon’s version sounds just as bad, scuttling much of the freedom content creators have come to expect in the download space. Next up: We watch for Amazon’s response to the IGDA’s allegations.