Originally Posted by Yeesh
I find no fault with your analogy to offline retail, but we know that things are different enough in the online world that different rules can and do apply. Most importantly, can you really look at mega-e-tailers like Amazon and iTunes and say they are "no longer doing anything to get the game sold?" Like GG says, just being in those stores leads to sales in a way that being in an individual chain, even a national one, would not. I mean, maybe Walmart is analogous, but even that's stretching it, because Walmart doesn't provide an in for indies, and Amazon and iTunes do just that. In spades.
In your own example, you cut out the publisher. True, these mega-e-tailers aren't acting like publishers, but then neither are the developers. We have a new model. There's no reason that pricing power which used to belong to publishers should shift to the devs rather than the e-tailers.
Amazon doesn't provide a damned thing that Spiderweb can't, for example, in terms of the game you download. So why should Spiderweb want to sell games on Amazon? Because Amazon DOES increase sales big-time.
In return for this sales bump, Amazon demands price caps. If Spiderweb doesn't like it, they can keep selling games the way they have been, and lose all those potential sales. And complain about it. I'm only saying let's not pretend Amazon isn't bringing anything to the table; if they weren't, why bother having this conversation?
@Indy game publishers, and anyone who can influence them:
This is so stupid. While I was typing this out, I figured out the answer. Just frigging cut your content up into sizes where (price cap) X (# of chunks) = (what you want the game to sell for), and this whole issue vanishes. Duh. Just make Geneforge 5 Chapter 1, 2, and 3. Tada!