Amazon Game Studios are reportedly hitting a rocky patch, with a new report from the Wall Street Journal claiming Amazon’s gaming division is struggling to keep pace with the technological advances of the gaming industry.
The core of the problem appears to be associated with the use of Amazon’s own license Lumberyard game engine. The free-to-use Lumberyard game engine is itself based on Crytek’s CryEngine, forked off into its own entity in a $70 million deal. CryEngine is notoriously finicky to use, which is probably a leading reason why precious few games actually use it.
“In spite of our efforts, we didn’t achieve the breakthrough that made the game what we all hoped it could be,” Amazon staff wrote last year when Breakaway was canceled. It turns out one additional game was also canceled but it was never officially announced. The only game Amazon Game Studios released was the truly abysmal ‘Grand Tour Game’. Check out some videos, it looks truly awful. Kudos to Amazon for creating a game that somehow managed to be worse than the show.
“The software, a so-called engine known as Lumberyard, wasn’t built for the kind of multiplayer games Amazon wanted to make, and the company’s efforts to retool it have proved difficult,” said the current and former employees to Washington Post. “As a result, making “Breakaway,” for example, was like driving a train while the tracks were still being laid down, these people explained.”
“They’re still ironing out the kinks of what it means to own and maintain your own engine,” said members of Amazon Game Studios.
Apparently, Amazon is even throwing around the idea of switching to an industry standard engine such as Unreal Engine 4. It means effectively writing off a $70 million investment but it may be prudent to cut their losses.
In terms of what this means for AGS’s future output, it’s a little up in the air. To the best of our knowledge, Crucible is still in development. Historical RPG New World appears to be the furthest along in development though, with a number of closed beta tests and like the running.
Amazon will be all too keen to get at least one of these titles out the door and get its game studios up and running. Unfortunately, it appears for Amazon this involves a whole lot more than just throwing cash at the problem.
Sadly, the end result is dozens of employees at Amazon Game Studios were laid off during the middle of E3 week. Typically classy timing from good old Jeff.