Despite having virtually unlimited resources to throw at any problem it encounters, Amazon has not yet been able to nail down the process of making videogames. The free-to-play hero shooter Crucible flopped so hard that Amazon Game Studios actually unreleased it, and then retroactively canceled the project (opens in new tab), the first (and only) time I recall such a thing happening; the fantasy MMO New World (opens in new tab) has also been delayed repeatedly, and still doesn't have a set release date.
There are also reportedly internal problems at Amazon Game Studios: A Bloomberg (opens in new tab) report published in January claims that the studio "cultivated a 'bro culture'" and suffered from a lack of experience in upper management, including from studio head Mike Frazzini, who got his start in Amazon's books department.
Despite all that, incoming Amazon CEO Andy Jassy, who will take over from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (opens in new tab) this summer, expressed support for Frazzini in an email sent to staff (via Bloomberg (opens in new tab)) and said that Amazon remains committed to the game business.
"Some businesses take off in the first year, and others take many years," Jassy wrote. "Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in AGS, I believe we will if we hang in there.
"Being successful right away is obviously less stressful, but when it takes longer, it’s often sweeter. I believe this team will get there if we stay focused on what matters most."
That, of course, leads to the obvious question of "what matters most." Making games is hard for everyone (opens in new tab), as Tyler pointed out earlier today, even trillion-dollar tech companies like Amazon. Putting a winner over the line might be something as (relatively) simple as a change in management: Turn around the internal culture, bring in experienced leadership (maybe give Jade Raymond a chance to actually finish a game?), and the rest might fall into place. Money can pave over an awful lot of obstacles, but a firm grasp on the fundamentals of making games and a commitment to creativity rather than just processes and feature lists are clearly big pieces of the puzzle, too.
The timing of Jassy's re-commitment to making games is interesting, too: It comes just a couple of days after Google announced that it's pulling the plug (opens in new tab) on its Stadia internal studios (hence why Jade Raymond might be available for hire).