The mobile versions of Traces of Illumination are coming along quite nicely. Currently, I'm doing some optimizations for the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play which has a real game controller perfectly suitable for my game. My iPad 2 testing device should arrive tomorrow - but today, I'd like to talk about the Amazon Appstore for Android and why Traces of Illumination won't go there:
Just about an hour ago I received an email message from the IGDA (International Game Developers Association)
. If you are a game developer publishing to the Android market, I strongly recommend reading the whole text, which is available at: Important Advisory about Amazon’s Appstore Distribution Terms
I'll just include a few quotes here to illustrate what I'm talking about:
[...] the IGDA has significant concerns about Amazon’s current Appstore distribution terms and the negative impact they may have on the game development community, and we urge developers to educate themselves on the pros and cons of submitting content to Amazon.
Amazon reserves the right to control the price of your games, as well as the right to pay you “the greater of 70% of the purchase price or 20% of the List Price.”
Furthermore, Amazon dictates that developers cannot set their list price above the lowest list price “available or previously available on any Similar Service.” In other words, if you want to sell your content anywhere else, you cannot prevent Amazon from slashing the price of your game by setting a high list price. And if you ever conduct even a temporary price promotion in another market, you must permanently lower your list price in Amazon’s market.
So why is the Amazon market not an option for Traces of Illumination?
I strongly believe in the power of individuals and that one of the major problems on this planet is that most individuals give away this incredible power to others. The result is that - just like with money (which is a form of power) - power condenses around organizations with the primary goal of attracting as much power as possible. Unfortunately, as the primary intention of those organizations is just accumulating as much power/money as possible, what they use this power for is ... guess what? Gaining more power. In reality, it's still the individual's power - but most individuals have trained themselves to believe they are powerless, helpless ... victims of corporate capitalism. Most people live in a constant state of giving almost all of their power away. Taking it back would be just a matter of making conscious decisions - but until people wake up to that fact, they act my like little robots programmed by TV.
The results are devastating. Not only to people but to all living beings and the planet as a whole. Basically, what we are witnessing these days is a greedy monster eating up the potential for life. And since this monster has no heart (or refuses to listen to its heart), this will not stop until either the human race is wiped off this planet or the human race remembers what it came here for (which would be equivalent to this "monster" starting to listen to its heart).
This has been going on for a while already - but these days it has become so obvious and severe that more and more people get it. Wait a few more years, and only the blindest of the blind will still deny that something is going wrong on a huge scale. The Golf of Mexico Oil Spill, the Great Pacific Garbage Patch or the Nuclear Accidents in Fukushima are just some obvious examples of where this giving your power into hands that really really misuse it has already taken us. These things happen because people don't really care where their money goes. Many people don't even seem to be aware that when you see the full picture, it's us who are paying with our own money to make situations like this not only possible but in the long run inevitable.
So what does the Amazon AppStore for Android have to do with some of the worst catastrophes this planet has seen in recent times?
Amazon is crossing a line. Just like many others have before. I'm not really happy about the approach Apple takes with their subscription model (see also: Apple's Subscription Rules Raise Possible Antitrust Issues). However, I feel putting Traces of Illumination on iOS devices and giving players a very easy and secure way to subscribe to the multiplayer service is beneficial enough to outweigh the loss of control/power/money that the terms for subscriptions impose. From my perspective, it would be fair if I could add the 30% Apple takes to the subscription fee when you go through Apple's infrastructure. There's a benefit for the players - if you want to get that benefit, why not pay for it? With Apple's terms, this won't work. So I'm giving away some of my power and freedom.
But I'm hopeful that eventually players will become aware of the possibility to subscribe directly on my Website and when they trust my service enough and feel it's worthy of their support more than giving 30% to Apple they might make a conscious decision to subscribe directly through this site. And personally, I find the infrastructure that Apple offers to developers so we can publish our creations pretty empowering while at the same time I feel they are doing their best to protect the customers of garbageware. So, even though Apple is a capitalistic corporation that many people find scary (for good reasons), I still find it acceptable for myself to support them - by buying their products and offering my products in their market.
With Amazon, the story is different. I immediately stopped buying from Amazon when I learnt that Amazon kicked out Wikileaks. Personally, in fact, I found the reactions to Wikileaks more revealing than the leaks themselves. A nice comment on the implications of Amazon's behavior in that context would be WikiLeaks row: why Amazon's desertion has ominous implications for democracy.
So, when I learned that Amazon might create a marketplace that I could use for Traces of Illumination, I wasn't super-enthusiastic right from the start. This just isn't a corporation I feel I want to support.
However, Amazon's terms for their Android AppStore really show what they are up to. As the IGDA put it:
The IGDA’s bottom line is simple: under Amazon’s current terms, Amazon has little incentive not to use a developer’s content as a weapon with which to capture marketshare from competing app stores.
I really don't feel like giving Amazon that kind of power - and I hope that many developers will think carefully and make a conscious decision of whether they want to put their creations to the possibility of being misused in such a way.
So, kudos go to the IGDA for reading the fine print and letting the world know!