The International Game Developers Association has released an open letter to the game development community raising “significant concerns” about Amazon’s new Android Appstore.
The statement focuses primarily on the way Amazon splits the proceeds of mobile game sales with developers, and the restrictions it imposes on the pricing of apps made available through its online store.
According to the IGDA: “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.”
“Furthermore, Amazon dictates that developers cannot set their list price above the lowest list price ‘available or previously available on any Similar Service.’ In other words, if you want to sell your content anywhere else, you cannot prevent Amazon from slashing the price of your game by setting a high list price. And if you ever conduct even a temporary price promotion in another market, you must permanently lower your list price in Amazon’s market.”
The letter goes on to identify five “potentially problematic” scenarios for developers selling apps through Amazon, most to do with the distributor’s freedom to discount games in order to capture market share at the expense of their creators’ profits.
According to the IGDA: “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.”
Although the organisation stresses that it believes Amazon to be acting in good faith, it “has thus far expressed zero willingness to adjust its distribution terms”, and has called upon developers to make their feelings known to the company directly.
We’ll link to a response from Amazon when we have one.