Last week, the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) issued a warning to mobile app developers regarding Amazon’s recently launched Appstore for Android. The message, simply put: don’t use it. According to the letter posted here on the IGDA website, the organization had “significant concerns” about the distribution terms, pricing policies and discounting practices Amazon used when selling developers’ apps.
But after a clarification from Amazon which said the IGDA had referenced an older version of the developer agreement by mistake, many wrote off the whole situation as a simple “misunderstanding.” But that’s not the case, the IGDA now claims. “Amazon’s terms, as they currently stand, represent a threat to game developers,” reads the latest blog post from the organization.
IGDA: We’re Still Not Impressed with Amazon’s Terms
In this new post, the IGDA says that, despite Amazon’s update, the majority of its concerns remain unaddressed. On Amazon’s Developer Blog, Amazon had explained that the document the IGDA referred to was out of date. It was just a simple accident, Amazon implied, because it had forgotten to update one of the versions it stored online on its Developer Portal website.
The updated document now reflects the changes made to the agreement in November, Amazon said, including “that the definition of list price applies only to the apps current price on a similar store.”
That’s not good enough, says the IGDA, mocking the retailer by saying how “pleased” it is that all versions on the Amazon website are now consistent. But the IGDA remains “unimpressed,” overall:
Amazon is still reserving the right to pay developers just 20% of their minimum list price at any time, without notification or advance approval. Additionally, Amazon is still unilaterally preventing developers from ever making an exclusive promotional deal with another marketplace.
In summary, Amazons terms still enable it to steeply discount a game developers content without permission a tactic Amazon could easily use to force game developers to absorb the cost for Amazon to compete with other appstores.
We are not impressed with Amazons recent gesture, nor is this matter the result of a misunderstanding. We believe that Amazons terms, as they currently stand, represent a threat to game developers.
Developer Response Muted
For what it’s worth, in our own ReadWriteMobile poll, we saw (as of time of writing) 41.67% of respondents agree that developers should indeed stay away from the Amazon Appstore. 34.03% disagree and 24.31% said they were unsure.
The implication with this debate, as the IGDA points out, is that Amazon’s terms were designed with the betterment of Amazon in mind, not the developer community or even the Android platform itself. At present, Amazon seems most interested in drawing in users from other Android app stores, even Google’s official Android Market, through the use of promotions where paid apps are given away for free on a daily basis.
For many developers, the power of Amazon has proved to be a major draw. As Applocious notes, highly popular titles including Angry Birds, Fruit Ninja and Doodle Jump are available now in Amazon’s store. But the article notes that for indie developers, “the lack of control can be frightening.”
What’s interesting about this ongoing spat is what appears to be a general lack of media attention and developer outrage over the matter. Are developers simply unaware of the issues at hand? Do they just not care? Or do they actually believe that Amazon has the winning formula for app promotion and sales?