Amazon's game downloads

So I saw the other day that Amazon, the Walmart of online retailing, has a game download store now.

So far I’m just seeing casual $10 titles however I’m glad to see someone with some retailing experience is entering the arena.

If they do the same thing they did with MP3s, offering outstanding specials on a daily and weekly basis, eliminate DRM, and make the purchase experience trouble free and seamless I can see the EA store, Stardock, Direct to Drive and Steam scrambling.

Does anyone know if they have any pipeline to the AAA library that Steam has or an inside track to indie games that D2D and Stardock carry?

Right now they’re offering 3 games for free if you download them this week.

What’s weird is that I noticed at least one other game, Big Kahuna Reef, is also available for free – at least for now. I found that randomly by noticing its price is 0.00. I haven’t seen that advertised anywhere.

It seems they’re using the free games offer to get people to download/install their custom downloader/installer, and of course to get people comfortable with getting games from Amazon.

I heard it mentioned on the radio this week so the news of this offering is slowly trickling out. From what I understood it was casual only, but I guess the audience and success of the store might change that.

What they have now does appear to be casual – an alternative to stuff like BigFish and RealArcade. Prices also appear to be a lot lower ($10 at Amazon as opposed to $20 at other places), but so far I’ve seen mostly past-peak casual games. I haven’t looked at it too deeply yet.

Does anyone know if you just need to download it this week for it to be free or also install/activate it?

I downloaded Jewel Quest 2 and had to install the Amazon Downloaded to activate it. If I had to reformat or reinstall it in the future, would it still be free or would I be charged for the activation?

Yeah, and a lot of that stuff they already had under their umbrella at Reflexive Entertainment (which they acquired last year).

They said that they are kicking it off with casual, and that whether they will branch out to “core” games remains to be seen… I guess this is a good way for them to test the waters.

LOL I can see why that build a lot game is free, it’s kind of out of touch with the times. Unless of course you can buy at the start of a spiraling real estate market and send your company down in flames along with the whole world economy…

What I found extremely strange/annoying was the way that searching through the game downloads blended seamlessly into browsing the physical games without bothering to tell you.

Kinda deceptive.

I think there is some glitch in their linking system. This happened to me and then when I refreshed or started over using the same browsing criteria (think it was strategy titles) it corrected itself.

Or they are out to get us.

This move has upset a lot of indie gamers. Over 110 games have been pulled from reflexive in the last 48 hours, due to reflexive/amazon cutting the sale price of all those titles in half without even bothering to notify the developers of the cuts.
I’m one of the devs who has requested their games be pulled from the system.
Devs don’t like their work being practially given away as loss-leaders to make amazon more popular…

I think you probably meant indie game developers, not gamers. Because from the gamer’s point of view… woohoo, half priced games!

So you’re the Lars Ulrich of the gaming industry…

And yes I bought Death Magnetic at the Amazon $5 sale. I’ll be anxious to see how long you keep singing this tune if Amazon does to games what they’ve done to the MP3 world.

Being a starving artist is cool up until the actual starvation starts.

Well, I can echo what cliffski said about a lot of people being upset. I’m in the industry, and buzz is that a lot of devs were upset about this. Rumor has it that devs were given little-to-no notice that their games would be sold at this low price (with an appropriate low per-copy commission going to devs), and it’s a big deal because it functionally halves (or so) the amount that devs are getting from their games.

That’s not a big deal if the dev is completely fine with what’s going on. But in this case, my understanding is that it caught a lot of developers off-guard.

Which is a shame, because Reflexive had built up a lot of good will. And Amazon too for that matter. Customers will like this move, but they’ll like it less when there’s not much of a selection available there. I can’t help but wonder if multiple price points will emerge. $9.99 for post-peak games to help them move faster, and $15 or the traditional $20 for newer releases.

I can definitely see why they’d be upset if they weren’t consulted in the matter. On the other hand, I’m far more likely to pay $10 for most of those games than I ever was to pay $20.

Only if you halve the price without increasing sales. This isn’t a physical store, they’re not trying to dump excess stock.

OK I see. I thought the amount going to the developer was the same regardless. It’s possible that Amazon can make up the difference with their traffic and volume but if you’re happy with your price point and getting less per sale I can see being upset.

Sorry cliffski I was a little harsh and I didn’t understand this point.

So uh how are they doing this legally? Did the developers sign some contract allowing some distribution service to sell all their games at whatever price they want to?

Of course. But I think it’s also pretty naive to think that they’re more than going to double sales, which is what it would take for the developers to come out ahead, rather than behind, because of this deal.

Well… no, because by attracting more customers Amazon sells more games, which in turn for some games could well result in more than doubled-sales.

In the end I reckon Amazon is better at selling stuff than game developers.

Exactly, I’m sure if this store gets some traction the top selling game is going to appear at the top of every game search and top seller list and featured list.

Whoever breaks into that top 10 is going to be raking it in compared to sales on their own site.

I’d still like to see clarification as to how the game developers are getting screwed. Did they sign some contract that gives them a percentage of revenue and lets the vendor set the price?