A giant of e-commerce, of course, but not yet of video games: Amazon has been wriggling with its video game productions for several years. A breakaway has been canceled here, Crucible, who knows the same fate after its release, a new world that has been postponed there. The American company doesn’t know which foot to dance on. At the heart of the problem: an unsuitable engine and the fear of doing something wrong.
In the world of video games, projects abandoned along the way are commonplace. But those who are after their release just don’t exist. However, this is the tragic fate of Crucible, the multiplayer TPS from Amazon Game Studioswhich should mark the company’s arrival as the new actor – and especially creator – of the medium once and for all. The title was published last May and finally deleted in mid-October. The developers explain why on their official website:
We have compiled a list of features that we think would improve the gaming experience. Our next step was to evaluate the feedback we received from you along with the data we collected to determine our path forward. That evaluation led us to a difficult decision: we will stop Crucible development. We don’t see a healthy and sustainable future for the title – The team behind Crucible, Amazon Game Studios’ multiplayer TPS, on their official website
Before that final clap, the title was already following a winding path. In July it went back to the closed beta “To improve the game by engaging the community”. A month earlier, two of the three available modes were withdrawn to focus on Coeur des Ruches, the one most used by players. “We won’t start season one until we feel like our community tells us the game is ready.”
Crucible – A few minutes of gameplay
Fear of being wrong
This fear of not satisfying the players can be found in the other statements from Amazon Game Studiosvia the MMO New World (recently postponed until next year) and the online sports game Breakaway, which was canceled in 2018. For the massively multiplayer game, the teams of the American giant want “That the players have confidence in the quality of the work (the Amazon teams, note) and the playability” of the title. For the aborted project, the developers admit to having hired themselves “A very high bar”. You conclude from this: “We didn’t get the breakthrough that would have made this game what we’d all hoped for.”.
A fear that is by no means due to the lack of resources on Amazon as the ecommerce website has been piling up 3.3 billion Net profit in the fourth quarter of 2019. The challenge here is to create a thundering entry into the JV communityUnlike other GAFAMs – not to mention Google – their arrival turned out to be much more mixed than expected. Amazon Game Studios was founded in 2012 with the original goal of releasing mobile games from other studios in their own store, the Amazon AppStore.
The challenge for Amazon is to make a thundering entry into the JV industry.
But in a second step, the Jeff Bezos company confirms its ambitions for the industry. First with the acquisition of Twitch in August 2014 for $ 970 millionand that of the Double Helix Games studio a few months earlier (at the origin of games that, apart from the first season of the new Killer Instinct, did not feature the ghosts). Then through massive developer recruitment, some of whom worked on critically-acclaimed titles the following year. All of this culminated in the announcement of Breakaway, Crucible and New World – the first three “real games” – at TwitchCon 2016.
Breakaway – Amazon (canceled) game images
Amazon then has all the cards in hand: money, projects, developers and even the platform on which the games are distributed en masse. All with one goal in mind: to go online (New World) and competitive (Crucible and Breakaway)
With Twitch in its pocket, Amazon obviously has only one goal in mind: to be online and competitive.
But what is the problem despite all the green lights? Behind the three big games announced by the company in 2016, several references to Amazon’s home engine, Lumberyard, converge. Tongues have been loosened about it recently, particularly as part of an investigation by Wall Street Journal. In an interview with the American media, an employee of Amazon Game Studios claims that The software was not designed for titles on-line that the giant wants to create.
As a result (because Lumberyard is not designed for big online gaming, as the editor notes), Breakaway with this engine was like driving a train while the tracks were still being laid (…) “They are still working on what it is.” means having your own engine and maintaining it, ”said a developer who works at Amazon Game Studios, referring to a separate team responsible for Lumberyard – Excerpt from an article in the Wall Street Journal about Amazon’s setbacks in the joint venture
New World – The Amazon game starts closed beta
According to the Wall Street Journal, Jeff Bezos’ company may eventually allow its developers to use a different engine. Or maybe Lumberyard itself is changingas suggested by GameSparks buyout in July 2017 a company that offers a developer interface to integrate functions more easily into online games such as rankings or economic systems. Today, the only game from Amazon Game Studios that was released under Lumberyard is The Grand Tour, a racing game that is considered to be unforgettable. Since the engine is free, it is also used by other studios, e.g. B. Cloud Imperium on Star Citizen.
Amazon is trying to create various entry points into its video game ecosystem.
A more flexible engine could help Amazon’s business a lot. Because on the edge of New World, the company is working on another difficult project: an MMO for the Lord of the Rings, which was created in collaboration with Leyou, the publisher of Digital Extremes (Warframe). The idea is to accompany the serial customization of the famous license managed by Amazon Prime Video. The American giant is therefore trying to create various entry points into its video game ecosystem.. And the recent announcement of Luna, its cloud gaming platform, is proof of that.
However, multiple entry points doesn’t necessarily mean the public will be there, even if the chances get bigger. What is obviously missing are the games. In media columns InverseChristopher Dring, JV Business Specialist at GamesIndustry, gives his opinion on the subject. And that all explains why Amazon is struggling to get into video games.
To be a successful gaming platform, you need three things: (…) good technology, which both Google and Amazon have. You need a strong community that is one of the largest in the industry on YouTube and Twitch, Google and Amazon. And you need games … and this is where those two companies fall apart. Amazon and Google have the ability to do big third-party deals and secure indie games, but they cannot launch regular AAA products like Xbox, PlayStation, Nintendo, EA, Ubisoft, etc. – Christopher Dring, JV business specialist at GamesIndustry, in the columns of Inverse
Today Amazon Game Studios has three teams in Seattle, San Diego, and Irvine, California, or 800 employees. For comparison: Xbox currently represents 23 development companies, while there are 15 on the PlayStation side. Companies that have also been active in the field for a long time and have therefore acquired specialist knowledge in this field. But who knows where and how to get there? What is missing from Amazon.
NB: Amazon didn’t want to answer our questions in the context of this article.