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IGDA Outlines 'Significant Concerns' Over Amazon Appstore Terms

IGDA Outlines 'Significant Concerns' Over Amazon Appstore Terms

April 14, 2011 | By Mike Rose

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 Amazonís 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 supplierís minimum list price without the supplierís 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 Amazonís current terms," it noted, "Amazon has little incentive not to use a developerís 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 developerís permission should be required by any retailer seeking to pay less than the standard percentage of a developerís 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 Amazonís 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 Amazonís 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.

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