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Amazon, IGDA fire away over Appstore pricing

by Phil Hornshaw

Last week, the International Game Developers Association warned Android game developers off distributing their games through Amazon’s new Appstore. Amazon has since clarified a few things about the terms of its Android marketplace, but the association of developers says it’s still not enough -- and it wants users to tell Amazon to its face.

The issues are mostly about pricing. The terms developers agree to when they submit games to the Amazon Appstore give the retailer full control over setting prices for apps and discounting them whenever Amazon feels like it. It also reserves the right to pay developers only 20 percent of the list price of their apps (or 70 percent of the sale price, whichever is greater).

The IGDA’s warning tells developers that they’re ceding a lot of control and potentially a lot of money to Amazon, which reaps all the benefits of sales by bringing more users to its store and promoting the entire structure, while leaving developers short on what they would be earning on their apps.

Since the original warning, Amazon has clarified its rules a little bit, waylaying some of the IGDA’s original complaints. Amazon issued this statement in which it clarified the rules between its PDF and plain text documents. This seems to have removed some caveats that the IGDA warned would stop developers from having full control of their products in the Amazon Appstore and in other markets.

But the IGDA still isn’t satisfied, citing the 20 percent payment rule and other issues that it believes leave developers with the short end of the stick. The association issued another statement on its blog today, condoning Amazon’s willingness to clarify the terms of its Appstore, but still telling developers to hold-off for a better deal.

Meanwhile, GetJar, an alternative app store for Android, posted a manifesto about app stores and developers on its site. Without actually saying so, it calls out Amazon for its price-setting tactics and lays out what it deems to be the proper way to interact with developers in a series of rules, all of which sound pretty reasonable.

Still, despite the complaints, the Amazon Appstore seems to be continuing to see growth, drawing some highly popular titles like Fruit Ninja, Doodle Jump and Angry Birds to its ranks. But for many new developers trying to break into the huge and burgeoning mobile game market, the lack of control can be frightening. It’ll be interesting to see if what the IGDA sees as Amazon’s prohibitive policies push innovation away from the Appstore and into other markets.