Amazon Games Alter Developer Guidelines After “Draconian” Personal Games’ Forced Licencing Becomes Public Knowledge

Amazon Games

Amazon Games have altered their guidelines, so that they no longer control games produced by staff outside of company hours.

Google Software Engineer James Liu had shared (in now deleted tweets) what would have been the terms of his contract if he had worked at Amazon Game. These terms were unpalatable to Liu, which he described as “draconian.”

The terms stated any “Personal Game” developed must be done so outside of work hours, and could not use or incorporate Amazon resources or information; yet must use their “publicly available products and services” in the development and release of the game “whenever possible.”

The game must be available on an Amazon platform, and use Amazon Web Services where applicable. While the creator would be the owner of the game, they would have to grant license to Amazon “royalty free, worldwide, fully paid-up, perpetual, transferable license to any and all of my intellectual property rights” associated with the personal game and its development.

The agreement even states that it is to give personal development and creative expression to the creator; not to compete with Amazon Games Studio or operate “a meaningful commercial endeavor.” Only other Amazon Games Studio employees would be permitted to work on another’s Personal Game.


Hot debate soon ensued; discussing if the terms were fair, other alleged contracts that were bad for those under them, and those who took no issue with what Amazon Games had proposed.

While these were only allegations at the time, Bloomberg report (according to a company email they obtained) that Amazon Games withdrew their guidelines on August 12th; just over a month after it had become public knowledge.

“These policies were originally put in place over a decade ago when we had a lot less information and experience than we do today,” said Amazon Games Vice-President Mike Frazzini stated in the email, “and as a result, the policies were written quite broadly.”

There is evidence of Amazon Games being inexperienced of how game development and developers operate. Their free-to-play shooter Cruicible was their first major title, and shut down months after launch. Our review noted the sparse playerbase and unbalanced characters, among other issues making it hard to recommend.

Amazon Games also announced this year that they cancelled their The Lord of the Rings MMO, after contract disputes with Tencent.

Possibly fearing any further bad press, their fantasy MMORPG New World has been delayed four times; though this would also include during the COVID-19 pandemic. Feedback from the closed beta may have included the recently reported allegations that the game was causing EVGA GeForce RTX 3090 graphics cards to overheat and brick.

Amazon Game Studios later stated that even though the issue was not wide spread, and that the closed beta was safe to play, a patch was released to cap the frame rate to reassure players.

Image: Wikipedia



Ryan was a former Niche Gamer contributor.

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