Amazon Game Studios: A lot of money, little presentable

Amazon Game Studios: A lot of money, little presentable

Amazon Game Studios

And postponed again: As the developers of Amazon Games have announced, their online role-playing game New World will not come on August 31st. Instead, it should not be ready until September 28th. It is the fourth time that the title has been given a new release date. This time ostensibly to respond to feedback on the recently expired beta. It was a considerable success with over 200,000 simultaneous players on Steam, but it was also plagued by many problems. And whether an additional month is actually enough to revise the, at best, average PvP battles, the lame mission design and the brazen in-game shop, I dare to doubt.

I think we are much more here the next flop could be in the house. Why? Because even after eight years and millions of dollars in investments, Amazon Games have not yet managed to get a halfway decent game off the ground.


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Table of contents

1 Amazon's game cemetery 2 Flops on the running belt 3 Money alone is not enough

Amazon's game cemetery

Quite the opposite: Since the development studio was launched in 2012, it has been characterized above all one thing: bumpy development processes and hasty releases that could not even stay on the market for several months. The once proclaimed goal of developing innovative, fun and well-crafted games has now come to nothing. Rather, play corpses pave Amazon's path.

Amazon Game Studios: Why the developer doesn't make good games. (3) Source: Amazon Game Studios A tour of the digital cemetery, for example, uncovered Breakaway, a team-based brawler for up to eight players who was supposed to somehow reconcile MOBA, tower defense and soccer. Not only does that sound complicated, it was. Breakaway wanted too much all at once, it was just hectic and completely incomprehensible. The consequence: development was put on hold after just nine months. "Temporarily", as it was initially called. However, the work was never resumed, instead they instead devoted themselves to other projects.

For example projects like Crucible, the next big thing. At least that's what the makers hoped for. Everyone should have noticed by now that it didn't work out. The 6-on-6 third-person shooter flopped and went down in history as one of the biggest disappointments of the 2020 game year. The hip Overwatch-style heroes, just three game modes and a single map were simply not enough for four years of development. Just a few weeks after the official release, Crucible was downgraded back to beta. The final end followed in autumn 2020.

Flops on the running belt

I could feel like going on this list forever: There is, for example, The Grand Tour: The Game, a licensed game of the same name TV magazine on Amazon Prime. The mixed up segments from the auto show with gameplay sections, but it turned out so clumsy, so uncreative that it was almost torn up in the trade press. Terrible handling, missing damage model, dreary staging and moderate scope were punished with a Metascore of 52. Less than a year and a half after its release, the title was taken off the digital counter.

Amazon Game Studios: Why the developer doesn't make good games. (4) Source: Amazon Game Studios Other projects didn't even make it that far: there aren't even trailers or screenshots for a Lord of the Rings MMO that was discontinued in the spring after a dispute with the Chinese company Tencent. It is similar with intensity, with which Amazon wanted to jump on the Fortnite hype train, but pulled the emergency brake in 2019. And Nova, which was planned as a League of Legends competitor, never saw the light of day either. This ended in 2017.

The question remains: Why? How can a multi-billion dollar company fail to break into game development? It can't really be due to a lack of competence. With Double Helix Games, Amazon bought a complete development studio in 2014 in passing. The team, which had previously made a name for itself with Killer Instinct or Battleship, was supplemented with some prominent representatives from the industry. These included Clint Hocking, Creative Director of Far Cry 2, and portal designer Kim Swift. So people who should know how to make good games. If you let them.

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Money alone is not enough

Amazon Game Studios: Why the developer doesn't make good games. (2) Source: PC Games That seems to be the problem: the environment in which the titles are created. Amazon is a company that is driven by numbers and profits. Accordingly, the expectations of his gaming division are quite high:

Every Amazon production must be a "billion dollar franchise" that attracts thousands of players and ideally ties them to the Amazon ecosystem. True to the motto: You like our games, then why not try out our Prime subscriptions and cloud services! This ensures that no experiments are attempted. Instead, they prefer to focus on what already works with the competition: live service games, online multiplayer and cosmetic microtransactions with which you can individualize your overdrawn heroes in a cartoon look. That is neither particularly individual nor innovative. You just pant after the next big trend and try to get hold of a few stray gamers with the big name "Amazon". Amazon's in-house productions are usually nothing more than soulless clones of already popular titles and genres that have nothing of their own with which one could bind players for longer. Why should I give a half-baked crucible a chance, for example, when Overwatch has perfected the game principle over the years?

As clichéd as it may sound, the principle applies: game development is and remains a creative process. It's not enough to just blow a bunch of money, hire a few big names in the industry and let them build a success according to the scheme. Studios are not machines that are fed with bills and then spit out gaming blockbusters. Like a band or a theater group, a development team is its own little microcosm that needs to be looked after. It takes a shared vision, a creative environment, work ethic and solidarity, the feeling that you are working towards a result that you stand behind. You don't just pound something like that out of the ground, something like that has to grow organically. Or as the English Guardian put it so beautifully: "You can buy art with money, but you can't simply create it with it." Because even if the big animals on the board continue to show perseverance and emphasize that they don't want to "give up triple-A gaming"; Even if a new studio was recently opened, in which the former developers of Rainbow Six: Siege are working on a new online multiplayer: At some point all patience will come to an end. Game development at Amazon reportedly costs $ 500 million a year. That is only about as much money as the company earns within half a day, but still not a sum that one simply shoots lightly into the air. If results are not delivered soon, the big animals of the group will lose their interest in gaming and prefer to devote themselves to other projects. You saw that recently at Google: They stopped developing games internally after almost a year because their Stadia streaming service simply couldn't establish itself. So it is quite possible that Amazon Games will soon meet a very similar fate.

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