Amazon puts nearly $ 500 million into its gaming division annually, anonymous employees say in an interview with Bloomberg. Amazon has been working on games for years, but it has not been successful so far.
Two sources tell Bloomberg that Amazon spends nearly half a billion dollars a year on the gaming division. That amount is independent of the investments in Twitch and the new game streaming service Project Luna. Bloomberg spoke with thirty employees and former employees and paints a picture of difficult development and problems with the corporate culture.
According to the story, developing games is slow and difficult, partly because Amazon wants to use its own Lumberyard engine . In 2014, Amazon licensed the CryEngine from Crytek and made its own engine with it. It has been available for free since 2016, but few developers use it. Amazon employees say the engine is slow to work with.
Amazon decided in 2012 to start making its own games. Initially, the plan was to make mobile games for its own Fire devices, but in 2014 it was decided to focus on PC and console games. Mike Frazzini is in charge of that. He has no experience in the gaming industry and previously worked with books at Amazon. According to employees, Frazzini has difficulty distinguishing between concept images and actual gameplay and he hardly understands the technology behind games.
In recent years, Amazon has attracted many well-known developers and top players from the gaming industry. For example, the tech giant hired Portal developer Kim Swift and Clint Hocking, the director of Far Cry 2. However, according to Bloomberg, they have left without any games.
Amazon has not yet released a successful game, but several projects have flopped. For example, in 2019 a console game based on the Prime Video series The Grand Tour was released. The game received poor reviews and had few players, after which Amazon pulled the game from digital game stores .
The Overwatch-like multiplayer shooter Crucible also flopped. Amazon worked on that for years and released the game in May 2020, but shortly afterwards it was decided to withdraw the game to make improvements. In October it was decided to discontinue development completely .
Amazon has now set its sights on mmorpg New World. That game should have been released last year, but was delayed to spring 2021 . The Crucible development team would have largely been set on this after the scrapping of that game. Amazon is also working on a Lord of the Rings mmo for PC and consoles. That game will be out in a few years; an open beta must start no later than January 2023.