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Thursday, October 21, 2021

For flagging Amazon Games unit, ‘New World’ ‘has to be our breakthrough’

On Tuesday, Amazon gave producing its own video games another try with "New World".

By: New York Times |
Updated: September 29, 2021 2:12:29 pm
Amazon New WorldAmazon's 'New World' lets you join factions, fight monsters, fight one another and colonize a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean. (Image Source: Amazon Games)

Written by Kellen Browning 

Amazon has been successful in nearly every industry it has entered, from books and grocery shopping to cloud computing and movie streaming. So it has been puzzling to many that success in the lucrative video game business has eluded the tech giant.

On Tuesday, Amazon gave producing its own video games another try. After more than a year of delays, it released “New World,” an online multiplayer game in which players join factions, fight monsters, fight one another and colonize a fictional island in the Atlantic Ocean.

The $40 computer game, which has received generally positive reviews as players tested early versions over the past few months, comes at a crucial time for the tech giant’s disappointing gaming efforts.

After spending by some estimates hundreds of millions of dollars, neither of the other two big-budget games Amazon announced it was producing in 2016 alongside “New World” exist today. Some of its top gaming hires have departed over the years without putting out any notable titles. Last year, the company also removed another game from storefronts after a poor reception.

Amazon’s biggest accomplishment in the gaming industry so far has been the acquisition of Twitch, the livestreaming video site, which the company bought in 2014 for about $1 billion. Amazon has also forged ahead with a new gaming subscription service, called Luna, and recently announced a new development studio in Montreal.

But success with its own games has been difficult for Amazon, which opened its gaming studio in 2012. Mike Frazzini, a longtime company executive, took the helm and said he wanted to make hits like “Minecraft.” Instead, though it has produced a handful of mobile titles, Amazon has canceled or ended at least four bigger games over the past several years.

One oft-cited reason for Amazon’s struggles is that the typical mindset of Big Tech companies — taking an analytical approach that involves throwing money at something, scaling up and hoping for results — does not work in a fickle, artistic industry like gaming, where users are quick to criticize and slow to embrace new entrants.

Gamers who have played early versions of “New World” said it was colorful and action-packed. Amazon would not share sales figures, but said it had more than 1 million players in one two-week test period of the game over the summer.

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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