In April 2011, quite some time ago, the games industry body (IGDA) sent an “important advisory” to its members warning them about some of Amazon’s submission policies.
And with good reason – these policies are unlike any other platform I have heard about. And are more than slightly interesting for developers.
For instance, Amazon reserves the right to vary the price of apps at any time it likes! It can even drop them to free if it so wishes and do a free promotion for you, which you cannot control on any premium product!
Paying developers either 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the original 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,” noted the IGDA’s letter, at the time, so reports the Guardian.
While many developers have happily signed up to the store with eyes open wide to the policy, some genres – premium book-apps, for example, which should be a good fit for the Kindle Fire – have seen more reluctance from publishers.
“If we were to sign the contract with them that they wanted us to, although we get to set the price of our titles, they can lower that down to nothing if they want to,” Touch Press chief executive Max Whitby told The Guardian in December 2011. “They’ll pay us a bit – 70% of 20% of the price that we set – so we’d get $1.40 for The Elements. We’re not prepared to take that risk: it’s destroying value. What’s been very good about the iTunes Store and Apple is that it has encouraged a culture of quality. People go there to find what’s good. Amazon is the Ryanair of digital publishing!”
Clearly, plenty of developers are happy to swallow these terms, in the hope that the growing scale of the Amazon Appstore – which the European launches will help – and the company’s famed recommendation engine will open up a new and lucrative distribution channel for their Android apps. And in my mind, the RyanAir of digital publishing is no bad thing. I know which business I like th sound of more. Obbessive Apple and posh BA, vs. open Amazon and disruptive RyanAir.
But will they at this price? It’s interesting to see if Amazon can do it – what that means for the rest of them and us for later on down the road.
So who do we publish with – of course – all of them. But perhaps we can do something differently with Amazon?