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GameSalad Changes Alarm iPhone Developers

A new business model brings a backlash.

GameSalad, the iPhone game development platform operated by Gendai Games, announced a new business model last week at GDC Online 2010 in Austin, Texas.

This week, a significant number of GameSalad developers are headed for the door. Ansca Mobile, which makes the competing Corona SDK mobile development system, says that it has seen thousands of new referrals to its Web site and that its SDK has been downloaded over 200 times by new guests in the past week.

The forums at GameSalad's Web site, as well as Ansca Mobile's, reveal considerable dissatisfaction with GameSalad's new approach.

GameSalad's revised business model is to make its game development tool free but to take a percentage of app revenue, after the 30% cut that Apple takes from App Store sales. It has ceased being a seller of programming tools and become the obligatory publisher of games created using GameSalad.

"Under the new model, there is no subscription, and no fees until creators choose to publish their games," the company explained in a note on its Web site. "This new pricing structure allows for an even lower barrier for entry to independent game developers, and also eliminates the need to have an Apple iPhone developer account."

Free games will continue to be free to publish; those who wish to sell GameSalad games, however, will have to yield a portion of revenue to GameSalad and pay a small submission fee.

GameSalad did not respond to a request for comment on how its new business model is being received, but many developers who use GameSalad have been vocal about their dislike of the changes.

"If we don't publish under our own account that also means no promo codes, no price changes, no download reports, no monthly direct deposit payments from Apple," said developer Jon Mulcahy in a forum post. "The people who actually make the games that generate money are not going to be down for this. [GameSalad] is going to have thousands of tap-to-destroy games. My brand isn't anything special, but it's mine and I'm not going to share it."

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