Yesterday Amazon killed their Free App of the Day program to replace it with something called Amazon Underground. This is a new service, complete with its own application, where any application or game for Android can be placed into and offered to consumers completely for free. No IAPs, no download costs, no fees, nothing. Why? Because developers will be paid based on their app’s usage.
This means that developers can offer their game or application in full for free, completely free. Right now Amazon is stating that there’s over $10,000 worth of actual free apps and games on their new Underground. The whole thing is great for consumers as they can now get games they may not have considered getting because they are completely free.
As a developer though, there are a few things to know before you rush to your PC to make your Android games or applications ready for Amazon’s Underground, which actually won’t take much work unless your game has a ton of IAPs, and maybe not even then.
The pay that Amazon is mentioning is based on the amount of time that a user actually uses your application or game. It is based on a per minute basis, so for every minute a user plays your game or uses your application, you will make money. Amazon determines app usage as the amount of time that an Android Activity for your app is open and running in the foreground of a mobile device. Running in the background won’t qualify as usage. Here are the four standard Android lifecycle calls Amazon uses to determine when an Activity gains or loses focus and is in the foreground:
Fixing crashes and bugs that lead to crashes will suddenly be much more important for Underground apps and games. Apps and games that close prematurely (due to a crash or whatever) and do not trigger the appropriate events will have reduced accuracy in usage measurements, so you could lose money because of this.
Depending on the location you are in, and what marketplace you were a part of (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com, etc etc), your pay rate will be different and in your currency.
Of course there are requirements that an application or game must meet in order to be accepted into Amazon’s Underground aside from it being completely free. Luckily for you, the steps and requirements are not exactly that difficult and Amazon has them laid out nicely on their site. So how can Amazon afford to pay developers for this kind of set up?
Amazon will be running an interstitial ad that plays after a welcome message once an application or game is ran for the first time. Each time after the initial start up, an ad will play occasionally at the start. However, from the sounds of things, that will be the only time an ad plays, which is when you initially load up that app or game. So they are hoping to make enough money that way in order to support paying developers based on their apps/games usage.
It will be interesting to see if developers see success using this new service. We invite any developers who plan to be a part of Amazon’s Underground to contact us and let us know how well the system works out and if they are seeing an increase in revenue over how they used to monetize their game or application on Amazon’s Appstore.