Amazon spends $500 million a year on developing its own games

Amazon puts nearly $500 million into its gaming division every year, anonymous employees said in an interview with Bloomberg. Amazon has been working on games for years, but so far it has not been successful.

Two sources tell Bloomberg that Amazon spends nearly half a billion dollars a year on its gaming division. That amount is separate from the investments in Twitch and the new game streaming service Project Luna. Bloomberg spoke with 30 employees and former employees and paints a picture of difficult development and problems with 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 Crytek’s CryEngine and made its own engine from 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 game industry and previously worked with books at Amazon. According to employees, Frazzini has difficulty distinguishing concept images and actual gameplay, and he does not or hardly understand the technology behind games.

In recent years, Amazon has attracted many well-known developers and top game industry executives. For example, the tech giant hired Portal developer Kim Swift and Clint Hocking, the director of Far Cry 2. According to Bloomberg, however, they left again, without any games being produced.

Amazon has not yet released a successful game, but several projects that have flopped. For example, in 2019 a console game was released that is based on the Prime Video series The Grand Tour. The game received bad reviews and had few players after which Amazon pulled the game from digital game stores.

The Overwatch-esque multiplayer shooter Crucible also flopped. Amazon worked on that for years and released the game in May 2020, but it was soon decided to pull the game back to make improvements. In October it was decided to stop development completely.

Amazon has now set its sights on mmorpg New World. That game was supposed to be released last year, but was postponed to the spring of 2021. The Crucible development team would have been largely set on this after the game was scrapped. 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 should start no later than January 2023.

New World