May 28, 2012
The “Because We May” sale that started recently may seem like an odd reason to have a sale, possibly even a meta-sale of sorts â€“ a sale celebrating that we can have sales when we want! But there may be an Android-related reason behind it.
Ron Carmel of 2D Boy mentioned to Gamasutra that they were in negotiations with a store that had “draconian demands on pricing control.” Now, while it’s possible this could be for something else entirely, here’s what the likely scenario seems to be:
- World of Goo is 2D Boy’s biggest product, and much of their visible work over the past few years has been to bring the game to as many platforms as possible.
- World of Goo is on Android, and has been on sale on Google Play and through the Humble Indie Bundle. It is not on the Amazon Appstore.
- The Amazon Appstore has notable demands on pricing â€“ including guaranteeing that they have the lowest price, and wanting their own controls over the price of apps on the store.
Put it all together, and it seems as if this is the obvious reasoning for the sale.
The problem is that this winds up being a double-edged sword for developers. Kindle Fire is a lucrative platform to be on. But to be on its preinstalled store, it requires agreeing to Amazon’s terms. While it’s definitely possible to sell to that device’s users and distribute through another store or to self-distribute, it pragmatically becomes a choice between principles and profit.
The developers participating in Because We May have a point. Developer freedom is a necessity, and they’re ultimately the ones that provide the content, so they should have control over how much they want to sell their games for. On Android, Amazon can fluster developers, because not only have they splintered off, but they’ve created a policy that benefits only Amazon.
Will these indie developers change the mind of Amazon and of companies like Microsoft who notably restrict developer control over pricing? Unlikely â€“ and in all fairness, they may want to prevent a race to the bottom, and keeping developers from dropping prices to 99 cents with desperate fire sales may be for the best. However, Amazon’s policy is solely in place to guarantee that their own store has the lowest prices. The stores should be looking out for the developer, not trying to take advantage or them, and this is an interesting issue that Because We May has brought to mind.