The Marvel API - a case study in how to not respect developers
Last week Marvel released an API giving developers access an impressive amount of data from the Marvel comics. 75 years worth of characters, storylines and events that are part of our modern mythology. It is a great marketing move for Marvel. I am sure it is going to result in lots of cool infographics as well as web and mobile apps which in turn help sell Marvels movies and comics.
Cash Moves Everything Around Me
"No Charge. All Apps must be offered free of charge to download or otherwise access and may not contain any in-App purchase features or any other method of monetization." as well as "you may not include any advertising or sponsorship in your App" (except if Marvel provides the ads that is).
So it is clear that you can not in any way make money on Marvels API.
The First Rule of Fight Club
We Reserve the Right To Sherlock
When Apples gets heavily inspired by an independent developer it is called getting Sherlocked, when Twitter, Facebook or Marvel does it is is just called business.
- Marvel clearly does not value the work developers will invest into using their API and market Marvels products. Actions speak louder than words, so Marvel can make things better by rewarding successful Marvel API based apps with money, noteriety or something else. Good developers are a limited resource and should be treated as such.
- It sets a dangerous precedent (even if Marvel is by no means the first to set this precedent) of developer unfriendly API terms. It works for the big guys with tights and capes or millions of users, but it DOES NOT work for anyone else in the long run. Unless you are Marvel or Facebook you need to be nicer to your users. As a developer I can just as well spend time with another API as with yours, so do not give me any reason to move on to a competitor.