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So I've recently noticed how great FreeTime Unlimited is for my daughter. There's no ads, no in-app purchases, etc. She can just play the games/apps and I don't have to worry about it.

As a develop I thinking it could an interesting avenue to go down, but there's a few things that I for the life of me can't get Amazon support/forums to answer in any logical manner.

So the idea according to their information is that the apps are highly scrutinized to verify they are child friendly content, which is excellent. Also, you can't use webviews, ads, or in-app purchases.

My question is: How do devs monetize these applications? Clearly they're not just giving away their work for free? The only logical answer I can guess at, is that it uses the Amazon Underground scheme of earning $$ based on the amount of time the user spends in the app/game??

Does anyone have and actual experience or information on this? As I said, I've reached out to multiple people at Amazon, and keep getting the runaround with all of them pointing me to the same useless link.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it's about speculation and is not about how to develop games as described in the help pages. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Apr 10 '19 at 19:04
  • \$\begingroup\$ Understandable. However I'll add (A) How does the monetizing process not have an effect on the game development, and if you don't buy into that.. (B) Which sub of StackExchange would this fit in if not this one? \$\endgroup\$ – While-E Apr 10 '19 at 19:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ A) It really looks like they expect you to contact them once a game is finished and ready to be published to their device. This tells me that one should not be developing for them as their main target but use them as a sideline revenue/advertisement. B) I don't think there are any: this kind of information is generally covered by contracts and NDAs, and will depend on many factors, including who you are and how you are able to deal with Amazon. \$\endgroup\$ – Vaillancourt Apr 11 '19 at 0:44
  • \$\begingroup\$ Also, I'm not sure why this can even be considered as "off topic" when in the help center it's listed (game industry (careers, trends, technology, etc)) ... Clearly monetization, and a specific store/platform, can be discussed under this umbrella. Regardless, not worth my time anymore. Thanks for the input. \$\endgroup\$ – While-E Apr 11 '19 at 15:43
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While I'm sure your looking for details it doesn't appear that there are many details about how exactly devs are paid (and it might even be obscure the the devs working on the projects) I can give you some speculation.

1) Time Based As you guessed it possible that amazon is paying apps based on how successful they are in time. Although this seems somewhat problematic as it promotes bad design practices where the goal is time sunk into the app instead of fun. This means that a usual system used in other subscription mediums would fall apart here.

2) Commission/Licence Most likely amazon is paying a set amount for access to each game each month, or commissioning specific studios for amazon exclusive titles. This would put them in line with how Netflix runs their subscription model.

3) Some Weird Combination Big tech companies these days love their proprietary algorithms so it's totally possible that in addition to base monthly price they reward any number of things. This could include playtime, how often an app is opened, how much a customer comes back to the app, and other data driven methods. While 2 makes the most sense to me from the lack of information on the subject out there it seems very possible that this is the answer.

The real thing to remember here is that Amazon does not need to turn a profit on this venture. This is another one of Amazons "Loss Leaders" where there goal is too get you to subscribe to Amazon prime and then once you are in their system they can start turning the real profit.

We can even run a hypothetical example of the inverse with this very product. So let's say you subscribe to Amazon Music (which is almost certainly losing Amazon money) and to make Amazon Music cheaper you get Amazon Prime. Now that you have prime you say what the heck and get Amazon Free Time, now Amazon is collecting more money from you originally at near no extra cost thanks to the digital nature of Free Time.

TL;DR: It's hard to say exactly what Amazon is doing but we can be confident that devs are being well paid whether or not Free Time is independently profitable.

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  • \$\begingroup\$ Thanks for your input. I had the same thought process, was hoping to get actual hard details from Amazon but that has proven absolutely useless. Just get the same scripted responses with no actual details about what I'm asking. May not even be worth the effort at this point. \$\endgroup\$ – While-E Apr 10 '19 at 19:53
  • \$\begingroup\$ Sorry I couldn't give you a rocksolid answer. It would be alot more convenient if all the big corporations gave us hard details about their inner workings, but for now it will remain elusive. \$\endgroup\$ – Toron Apr 10 '19 at 22:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ No worries, at least you gave some valuable input :). It's getting harder and harder to find people on sites like these that actually provide useful feedback. \$\endgroup\$ – While-E Apr 11 '19 at 15:42

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