Amazon’s new CEO, Andy Jassy, said this week that he’s committed to making Amazon video games into a reality. Although technically Amazon video games already exist, both big-budget games the company released have flopped dramatically.
After a Bloomberg profile last week detailing the company’s struggles with video game production, Jassy sent an email to Bloomberg staff reaffirming his belief in Amazon Game Studios.
“Some businesses take off in the first year, and others take many years,” wrote Jassy, “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in AGS, I believe we will if we hang in there.”
Jeff Bezos originally began Amazon’s foray into the video game world in 2012. The company reportedly spends $500 million dollars a year on their video games division, despite the fact that, as yet, they have little to show for it.
In 2020, Amazon Game Studios launched Crucible, a multi-player shooter game. It was released in May, but by July, the studio had pulled the game back into closed beta before canceling it entirely in October. In 2019, a video game adaptation of The Grand Tour garnered such poor reviews that it was removed from storefronts. New World, Amazon’s latest attempt in the gaming world, was supposed to be released in August but has been delayed until spring 2021.
Mike Frazzini, the head of Amazon Game Studios, had never made a video game before he became the head of Amazon Studios. The employees that spoke to Bloomberg detailed a lack of experience and a “bro culture” that contributed to Amazon Game Studios’ struggles. In response, Frazzini wrote in an email to his team, “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, or anything less than a fully equitable and inclusive environment,” he continued, “Making great games is hard, and we’re not going to get everything right.” He went on to say that they will continue to learn and improve.
“Being successful right away is obviously less stressful, but when it takes longer, it’s often sweeter,” Jassy continued in his statement. “I believe this team will get there if we stay focused on what matters most.”
It will take Jassy and his team a great deal of focus and work to resurrect Amazon video games from the ashes, but it’s possible. With Amazon’s budget, the company might be able to put out a decent video game, but something is clearly missing from the studio that needs to be fixed.