Software engineer outs ridiculous Amazon Personal Games policy

A software engineer just turned down a job at Amazon because of the "draconian rules" the company imposes on its employees.

Amazon might have started as an e-commerce company, but it has since become so much more. In recent years, Amazon has expanded its services to cover many new areas of technology. Because of this, the company has become a sought-after place to work due to the perceived growth potential for employees, especially software engineers.

The Amazon Personal Games policy effectively makes it impossible to work on games on your own time while an Amazon employee.

For a man going by the name of James Liu, a prospective Amazon employee, and a software engineer, working in Amazon would have been the ideal choice - until it wasn't.

While preparing to join Amazon back in 2018, James Liu learned of a set of stipulations that was a part of his contract with Amazon. Although some of the restrictions enforced by what he refers to as the Amazon Personal Games policy does make sense, the others are so restrictive that it's understandable why he declined the opportunity to work at one of the biggest tech companies in the United States.

What is the Amazon Personal Games policy?

It will be interesting to see what comes out of this whole debacle now that the Amazon Personal Games policy has become public knowledge.

James Liu shared the news about the Amazon Personal Games policy on Twitter in a since-deleted Tweet.

To summarize, the first half of the policy isn't exactly all that surprising. However, it's the fifth through eighth points that are absolutely bonkers.

According to the Amazon Personal Games policy, Amazon requires its employees to use its services when publishing a game that you made, regardless of whether you developed it using your free time.

In addition to this, any game you make as an Amazon employee grants Amazon a "[royalty-free], worldwide, fully paid-up, perpetual, transferrable license to any of my intellectual property rights associated with the Personal Game and my Personal Game development."

The worst part here is that you can only work on games together with other Amazon employees. This effectively restricts you from working on games in your free time with other people, even your family.

TechRaptor reached out to James Liu about his Tweet where he explained that a friend working on Amazon Web Services let him know about the policy. As soon as he learned about it, James says that he attempted to have it waived. However, Amazon's legal department saw no reason to give him an exception to the restrictive policy. As a result, James turned down the job.

According to James, his new employer has some similar policies when it comes to using company resources and ownership of patents, but it's nowhere near as restrictive.

While it's been three years since James declined the job at Amazon, some reports suggest that the Amazon Personal Games policy still exists as it is today.

As for James, he now works for a different company. He clarified that he did not apply for a job as a game dev at Amazon. Instead, it was for a generic AWS job, which only made the enforcement of the Amazon Personal Games policy worse. Had he accepted the job offer, this would have effectively given Amazon ownership of all the code and IP he produced while he was an Amazon employee.

Amazon's video game subsidiary, Amazon Game Studios, is currently working on a new MMO as well as the western port of Korean MMORPG, Lost Ark.

Ray Ampoloquio
Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter.
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