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News

  IGDA Outlines 'Significant Concerns' Over Amazon Appstore Terms
by Mike Rose [Smartphone/Tablet, Business]
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April 14, 2011
 
IGDA Outlines 'Significant Concerns' Over Amazon Appstore Terms

The International Game Developers Association board has "significant concerns" over the distribution terms for Amazon's Appstore, identifying potentially problematic scenarios that may arise.

In an IGDA blog post, the board noted that, "Many journalists have noted the unusual nature of Amazon’s current store terms, but little has been said about the potential implications of those terms."

In particular, the post explained that, "we are not aware of any other retailer having a formal policy of paying a supplier just 20 percent of the supplier’s minimum list price without the supplier’s permission."

Amazon reserves the right to control the price of games in the store, along with the right to pay "the greater of 70 percent of the purchase price or 20 percent of the List Price."

The board outlined five "potentially problematic scenarios" which it said would be greatly affected by the current Amazon policies:

  • Amazon may steeply discount a large chunk of its Appstore catalogue

  • Exclusive promotional windows cannot be given to other stores due to matching the minimum list price

  • Other digital markets may change their policies to match Amazon

  • Amazon could steeply discount a game that has a niche audience

  • Amazon may steeply discount a hit game when the game is already selling extremely well

"Under Amazon’s current terms," it noted, "Amazon has little incentive not to use a developer’s content as a weapon with which to capture marketshare from competing app stores."

The IGDA board of directors also expressed its own ideas regarding how it believes Amazon should alter its terms to benefit developers.

"A developer’s permission should be required by any retailer seeking to pay less than the standard percentage of a developer’s minimum list price," it stated. "Developers should have the freedom to set a minimum list price of whatever amount they see fit, without regard to pricing in other app stores."

The board concluded, "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."

Gamasutra has contacted Amazon for a response.

Amazon launched its Appstore last month, with over 900 games, including 400 that can be downloaded absolutely free. A majority of the Appstore's paid game titles are available for $1.99 or less, with only one game selling for $10 or more.

Soon after the Appstore's launch, Apple confirmed it was suing the company for use of the "App Store" name, citing trademark infringement and unfair competition in a filed complaint.
 
   
 
Comments

Keith Fuller
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Thank you, IGDA Board, for looking into these matters and speaking up on behalf of developers. And thank you, Gamasutra, for bringing the IGDA's concerns to the forefront.



Dan Fabulich
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The article is factually incorrect about Amazon’s terms. They USED to have a term that said that the list price was the lowest price “available or previously available on any Similar Service,” but they eliminated that term from the contract shortly before the store launched.

The updated contract says: “amount that does not exceed, at any time, the lowest list price or suggested retail price for such App (including any similar edition, version or release) available on any Similar Service or the lowest actual price at which you make such App available for sale through any Similar Service.”

This does not address IGDA’s main argument that Amazon should not be allowed to violate the minimum list price, but at least that part of the article should be amended to represent the current facts.



Brian Robbins
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Hi Dan, I hope you are correct that this term has already been changed. However the contract they have embedded on the Amazon Appstore signup page (as of April 14, 8:30am PDT) definitely has the language we quote in our statement.

5.i. List Price. The “List Price” for an App is an amount that does not exceed, at any time, the lowest list price or suggested retail price for such App (including any similar edition, version or release) available or previously available on any Similar Service or the lowest actual price at which you make or made such App available for sale through any Similar Service. You will update the List Price for each App as necessary to ensure that it meets the requirements of this section 5i.



Dan Fabulich
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It looks like Amazon has fixed the language on https://developer.amazon.com/signup/profile_info.html

The “previously available” language is no longer present.



David Carrigg
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I checked and found the same as Brian.

Where are you seeing that it's been changed?



Ephriam Knight
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This is making me reconsider using them at all. I was excited for the prospect of placing an app or game on their service, but with no control over pricing I will have to pass.



Lennard Feddersen
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Kudos to IGDA. As developers and publishers we need to remember that doing business with Amazon under these terms means that the Google Chrome store, which offers better terms for devs, will suffer. They are trading customer perks for traffic they gain at the expense of developers. Amazon own Audible - if you want to see what they are capable of you should look at the way Audible pays it's content developers. No thanks. As the game marketplace fragments and more and more of us are doing business as small groups then these large portals hold an incredible amount of power that they didn't have with larger publishers. If our community doesn't push for decent terms collectively then we won't get them individually.



Dustin Chertoff
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Subconsciously I think I realized this with Amazon's "Free app a day" promotion. Downloading a 5 dollar app for free is nice as a consumer, but as a fellow developer I would hate to have it happen to me. Then again, it let me finally play Fruit Ninja and decide that it's well worth the buck to buy it (through the android store itself).



Craig Timpany
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Surprise! Amazon treat their suppliers badly. Couldn't have seen that coming from their track record in ebooks:

http://www.antipope.org/charlie/blog-static/2010/01/amazon-macmillan-an-outsider
s.html



Dan OToole
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I agree that Amazon treats their customers badly. So unapproachable it's outrageous.




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