Amazon Game Studios haven’t been what you’d call a success story so far, but the company’s next CEO says he believes they eventually will be if they stick to it. Amazon proper announced yesterday that Jeff Bezos is stepping down as CEO (or sideways, maybe, to become executive chair), but it looks like that won’t immediately change the company’s plans for their game studio. Incoming CEO Andy Jassy wants to keep at it.
Internal emails obtained by Bloomberg indicate that Jassy is willing to wait for the game studio to find its footing. “Being successful right away is obviously less stressful, but when it takes longer, it’s often sweeter,” Jassy wrote in an email to staff. “I believe this team will get there if we stay focused on what matters most.”
“Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in AGS, I believe we will if we hang in there,” he also said.
“Haven’t consistently succeeded” is a very kind way of saying the studio has yet to launch a well-received game, having cancelled Breakaway in 2018, killing Crucible‘s short-lived launch last year, and delaying their MMO New World to sometime this spring. They’ve reportedly cancelled other unannounced projects as well.
A report last week attributes much of the trial and error to Amazon Games Studios’ internal dysfunction. The sources in that report lay a lot of blame at the feet of Amazon Game Studios head Mike Frazzini who allegedly has little experience with video games and would demand developers chase trends set by other popular games like Fortnite and Overwatch. Frazzini sent his own email to employees prior to Jassy’s. In it he claims AGS have zero tolerance for the “bro-culture” also alleged in last week’s report.
As for his own influence, Frazzini says “we’ve learned and improved a lot along the way, myself included, and we will continue to do so,” and that “making great games is hard, and we’re not going to get everything right.”
The larger context here is that earlier this week the other tech giant attempting to break into game development threw in the towel. Google announced they would be shutting down both Stadia game development studios to focus on partnerships with external studios for the Stadia subscription library.