Companies change their policies the way my wife changes clothes. I love Amazon for having this policy; but I wonder how it works on the back end. Does Amazon browbeat the publisher into making good on activation-depleted licenses for free? Or does Amazon pay the publisher for another license, and write that cost off as "customer service"?
If the key-replacement policy entails a quantifiable cost to Amazon, there will always be a danger of the policy being canceled at some future point. It's a perq, not a contractual obligation, and could cease to exist at any time.
That's a great point. I've wondered how they do this, keys don't just magically pop out of the sky.
I imagine places like Amazon buy keys in massive bulk sales so as to bring the cost of the individual keys down thereby making a profit ( they ARE still making a profit selling both Batman games at $10, and all the other great deals they have).
............Most of the time awesome deals like that are only done to promote a service, and then hope to make up that cost by repeat business later down the line, or even what else is bought at the same time in that "shopping trip". In the business this is known as a "loss leader". Such as just recently when UbiSoft in an effort to promote their UPlay Service, had games for $1. Amazon however does this regularly, so they have to be making a profit. That and they can't be depending on what else is bought at the same time because their digital goods can't be added to a shopping cart and must be bought one at a time. So they have to be buying massive lots of the keys at a bulk discount either from Steam or the publisher themselves (most likely).
............It's also apparent that they are driving the traffic to justify those bulk sales from the publisher or they would not continue to do so. This is probably how they can have such a casual attitude about replacing a key. There's only going to ever be a small percentage of people who need that option. It isn't that Amazon buys another key, it's that that save a certain amount left over from the bulk sale for that purpose, again because the individual keys were so cheap to begin with, it allows this option at all. Of course over time, they will know exactly what percentage that is, and will adjust the policy (either not seeing any value in it anymore due to too many people asking for new keys killing the policy outright, or not offering deals on games with additional DRM until they have been patched out).
............I also imagine that the associated cost of selling a digital good is much cheaper than the psychical option (bandwidth/server cost Vs. warehouse/shipping cost). I can see Amazon looking at retail games going completely digital, as is the trend much like other media is (newspapers and magazine media is dieing off more every year in favor of their "kindle" brethren versions. Amazon is following Steam's lead. I will also state that if Amazon does create a client, then please at the very least make it auto-update a game like Steam. If your going to go to that effort Amazon, do it right. If you aren't interested in creating a client due to it's need to have certain features (due to the bar being raised by Steam and customers coming to "expect" those features as a base minimum) then simply keep doing what your doing with Steam key sales exactly like this latest Batman game deal. Why compete directly with Steam, when you can use them to promote YOUR sales.
............It's entirely possible that Amazon, due to the fact that they don't have the administrative cost (yet) in distributing these games like Steam, that they will be able to undercut Steam at their own game. It's possible that in a years time, we will all be buying as a matter of preferential choice, our games from Amazon sales, rather than Steam's, and simply activating our Amazon games on Steam's client. Why exactly does Amazon need to make a client, when they can use Steam as their client?
Tony has already stated that there hasn't been any significant difference in sales between DRM Free versions and their Steam counterparts when both are offered at the same time for the same price. I also remember him saying at one time that this entire endeavor was something of an "experiment" by Amazon. I think at this point they've moved out of beta.
P.S. Tony, expect to be getting more tattoos, we now know what your willing to do to make a sale.
Edited by walkonshadows, 12 October 2012 - 04:55 AM.