Amazon’s gaming division discontinued its policies regarding games created by employees outside of work hours as a hobby. The policies required developers to grant the company a royalty-free, fully paid-up license to all of their intellectual property rights of the games made as personal projects. According to these rules, developers also had to use Amazon’s products and services in development and only distribute their games via Amazon-owned stores.
Amazon came under fire last month when a developer shared a piece of the company’s employment contract setting out these rules. “Back in 2018, I got offered a software development engineer job at Amazon,” the developer wrote in a tweet, since deleted. “I was ready to accept the offer too, paid pretty well. Had to turn it down due to absolutely draconian rules regarding hobbyist game dev.”
On August 12, Amazon revoked these policies, announcing it in an email to staff, obtained by Bloomberg. “These policies were originally put in place over a decade ago when we had a lot less information and experience than we do today, and as a result, the policies were written quite broadly,” Mike Frazzini, the Amazon Game Studios boss, wrote.
While these policies drew criticism at the time of the original tweet, many devs claimed that similar clauses are pretty standard across the industry.
Looks standard to me? I’ve had this at every AAA dev you work with. You get it taken out if it applies to you; that’s why it’s called ‘contract negotiation’
— DjArcas (@Fortress_Craft) July 7, 2021
The weirdest thing about this for me is that you’re allowed to develop games at all. Every contract I’ve had includes a non-compete clause that says you can’t develop *anything* outside of work. I’m not saying this contract is fair, just very different than what I’ve experience.
— Rez Graham (@rezibot) July 7, 2021
Similar policies also exist at Activision Blizzard, which, according FortressCraft Evolved developer Adam Sawkins, has the right of first refusal on all games you develop while you work there, which means you have to first offer your game to the company before you can explore alternative publishing opportunities.