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Casual Developers Boycott Amazon

| 12 Feb 2009 20:33
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Amazon's Reflexive casual gaming portal is causing controversy among many casual game developers, who feel that its $9.99 price point is too low and undermines the rest of the industry.

Amazon launched the game portal earlier in February, offering a wide range of casual titles for $9.99 each. But many developers aren't happy with the cut-rate pricing and have spoken out against it at this week's Casual Connect conference in Hamburg, Germany. PopCap Games, the world's biggest casual game developer and publisher, has said it won't use the site, while Andy Hieke, production director at iWin, said he supports the $9.99 price point but that it should be held back for new games to give them the best possible opportunity to sell at higher prices first.

"We pulled all our games down from Amazon when we found out what they were doing," Hieke said, adding that Reflexive's current pricing policy is "completely unacceptable." That sentiment was echoed by executives from Sandlot Games and Oberon Media, one of whom described the pricing issue as "the elephant in the room."

But Reflexive Entertainment Chief Financial Officer Ernie Ramirez denied that Amazon was attempting to undercut the industry, saying, "It's our goal to bring a lot of new people to the space." And as VentureBeat points out, other sites like Real offer games at even lower prices for customers who sign up for Columbia House-style "memberships" and agree to purchase a particular number of titles. The real area of concern for mainstream casual developers, the report says, lies in Apple's App Store, where games can be picked up for 99 cents or less.

That may be coming to an end, however; a rumor making the rounds at the conference suggests that Apple will begin setting its own prices for App Store products.

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