Amazon Casual Game Portal

By Jim Rossignol on February 3rd, 2009 at 3:58 pm.


So this is moderately interesting: Joystiq noticed that Amazon have come crashing into the casual games sphere with a new repurposed portal that allows you to try-before-you-buy with around 600 games. There’s a time limited trial for each one, and they’re weighing in at around $7-10. Some notable names in there too: Kudos, Kivi’s Underworld, Jewel Quest, er… Chicken Invaders 3? (Two was clearly the classic iteration.) Anyway, there’s some free games on there this week, which always seems to go down well.

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27 Comments »

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  1. cliffski says:

    This isn’t really new. Amazon bought Reflexive games recently. Those casual games are just the Reflexive games catalog. They also cut the price of all their games today to under ten dollars. That’s seriously bad for the developers who are now at the sharp end of a price war between bigfishgames and amazon. Two megacorps with tens of millions to spend on a price war, while developer royalties get squeezed lower and lower.

    why the hell didn’t so-called ‘independent’ developers actually concentrate more on direct-sales?

  2. gulag says:

    Surely this is further iron-clad proof that PC gaming is dead and no longer a worthwhile investment for major retail interests.

  3. Jim Rossignol says:

    A lack of experience or know-how? The folks who make games often aren’t the best people to promote them.

  4. Mo says:

    why the hell didn’t so-called ‘independent’ developers actually concentrate more on direct-sales?

    I did for Smiley. Took ~2 months to write out a mediocre encryption scheme, a secure paypal store, and an auto-regkey-emailing script. Didn’t do me much good! Direct sales are nice, and paypal is a very fair service, but even given my big “marketing” push for Smiley, it didn’t help much in terms of sales. :(

  5. BorderlandsGuide says:

    Yeah, that’s great for Reflexive that Amazon bought them but probably not good news for any other casual game developers.

    A digital distribution channel through Amazon is about as efficient as you can get. That means they can charge really low prices and still make a profit. It’s especially important in the casual gaming space where consumers are so price conscious (nobody is willing to pay $59.99 for Chicken Invaders 3).

    Independent casual game developers almost certainly do not have the presence, customer base, and operational efficiencies of Amazon. They won’t be able to charge so little and maintain their margins. They will have to somehow differentiate their games (Turkey Invaders???) and make them worth a few extra bucks.

  6. bansama says:

    Meh. I was interested until it turned out to be regionally restricted. At least independant developers don’t tend to regionally restrict their games. Nor do places such as BigFish, so why are Amazon doing it? >_<

  7. Sp4rkR4t says:

    The more important aspects of this story are not the reflexive catalogue but the rumblings in the amazon cloud that they are getting ready for a major games distribution channel and one stop shop to rival Steam. If that pans out it might just last long enough to force Steam to work on it’s client a little bit and sort out the Pricing issues.

  8. cliffski says:

    Not only do indies not do regional locking, we mostly just sell you an exe file. I cant understand why I would want to force people to install a ‘positech games client’ to just buy a game.
    bah etc!

  9. Tei says:

    USA has this problem with broadbad ( google for “200 billion dollar broadband scandal” ), some people say will
    never get broadband.
    Will this make smaller download more atractive? time will tell.

  10. LewieP says:

    But the pirates can get an exe file.

  11. Jim Rossignol says:

    Sp4rkR4t: Yes, it’s been clear for a while that ’09 will be the year of the digi download price war. Makes for interesting times.

  12. bansama says:

    Not only do indies not do regional locking, we mostly just sell you an exe file.

    That’s true. You guys also don’t do that whole regional pricing lark which is great. I think the only real advantage of channels such as Steam for indies, is the increased exposure. Thinking about it, I’m sure it was a post on the Steam forums that led my to Positech in the first place (picked up Kudos 2).

  13. Pags says:

    Not only do indies not do regional locking, we mostly just sell you an exe file.

    This is the way all digital downloads should be.

    Can anyone tell me how Chicken Invaders 3 measures up to the first? I know Jim said 2 was the seminal one, but the original is clearly superior in terms of the branching questlines and writing.

  14. cheeba says:

    Download price wars? Let me at ‘em. That Steam still haven’t even attempted to remedy the euro situation is beyond a joke. Wasn’t there an RPS article on this planned for the new year? Any further developments there?

    I’d really love to know exactly what the story is, especially when they can’t blame it on other developers due to their own equally crappy pricing.

    In short: Squeezing the indies – A Bad Thing. A little big-name competition in the AAA market – already too long coming, and more than welcome.

  15. Edgar the Peaceful says:

    …so am I being an idiot or is this only for US customers?

  16. Rich_P says:

    Impulse vs. Steam vs. Amazon’s rumored digital store vs. Gamersgate (which will supposedly offer direct downloads instead of a shitty client)

    Whoever loses, we win!

    Anyway, as a PC gamer (and not a dev!) I’m really excited about the future of digital distribution. If pricing isn’t of concern, you can pretty much write-off retail purchases altogether.

    Once the majority of gamers start buying digitally, the economics of the business will change dramatically. Infinite supply, no shelf space competition, increased lifespan of your game.

  17. cheeba says:

    @Rich_P: Gamersgate have indeed dropped their shitty client, and now just offer plain old direct downloads without having to go through their curious, quarter-finished ‘front end’. Good for them.

  18. Keith Nemitz says:

    Given the economies around the world, lowering the price of games may keep sales up and developers flush. However, adding 600 games all at once is a mistake. If you’re not on the front ‘games downloads’ page, you’re ‘little people’. Wonderful gems like, (plug!), DHSGiT, will languish.

  19. mister slim says:

    @keith If you’re going to plug something maybe include more than an acronym. A big colorful link would be good.

    To RPSers, note: Keith Nemitz’s design and writing skills are far superior to his self-whoring. Check out Dangerous High School Girls in Trouble.

  20. bansama says:

    Impulse vs. Steam vs. Amazon’s rumored digital store vs. Gamersgate (which will supposedly offer direct downloads instead of a shitty client)

    Yup, the client ceases to be this week. So GamersGate may well actually get my custom again. For one thing, they sell a few games globally which Steam restrict to US only.

  21. malkav11 says:

    The fact that they bought Reflexive would explain why a) the catalog looked really familiar and b) why most of it was match 3 clones and other such casual junk.

    One reason I never patronized Reflexive. For every game that was actually aimed at gamers proper (like, say, Kivi’s Underworld now) they had 60 match 3 clones, 60 find the hidden object games, and 60 breakout clones. And no way to suss out the good stuff.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Morph says:

    Chicken Invaders 3 is a poor entry in the Chicken Invaders series. Gone is the isometric viewpoint, instead the game is a first person shooter – and not a very good one at that. The script has lost a lot of its humour and the voice acting is terrible, even from Liam Neeson. Oh and the ending sucks.

    I have no idea what I’m talking about.

  23. evil vitamin c says:

    Are any of those free games worth playing?

  24. danielcardigan says:

    One of the free games is called Build-a-Lot – “Send the housing market through the roof as you build, buy, and sell houses in the new strategy game, Build-a-lot. ”

    Too soon…. too soon.

  25. moa says:

    …so am I being an idiot or is this only for US customers?”

    i don’t know about rest of the eu, but beeing in poland i can’t even download 3 “free” games.

  26. Quijote3000 says:

    i don’t know about rest of the eu, but beeing in poland i can’t even download 3 “free” games.
    Same here (Spain). I’ve been trying to use hotspot shield, that works with Hulu, but still no luck
    Kind of dumb. Hey, If I’m willing to put my money for buying a game, what’s exactly the problem for amazon?
    Anybody know how to bypass that regional limit?

  27. cheeba says:

    Doubly silly as most other casual/indie stuff doesn’t tend to bother with region limits. And why would they?