Andy Jassy, the man selected to replace Jeff Bezos as CEO of the tech giant Amazon, has stated that he believes Amazon will become a successful games studio “if they hang in there.”
Bezos’s decision to step down as CEO of the company that made him the richest man in the world, came as a surprise to many, and his replacement, Jassy, has been an Amazon insider for decades. The Amazon Game Studios has struggled to release a major product since their decision to move away from the mobile market and into the PC gaming market, though Jassy hopes to change that.
Amazon attempts to break into blockbuster gaming
One would be forgiven for not recognizing anything made by Amazon Game Studios. Amazon started their game studio all the way back in 2012 and made the announcement that they’d be moving to PC games in 2014.
Since then, Amazon Game Studios has released exactly one PC game in 2020, Crucible, on May 20th. But, poor reviews and low player counts prompted Amazon to pull it back to a closed beta just one month later, and in October of 2020, Amazon announced that the game was canceled.
According to most reports about what happened, Crucible began development in 2014, after the excitement around Blizzard’s Overwatch announcement. Amazon reportedly aimed to follow in Blizzard’s footsteps in the hopes that copying their formula would guarantee success.
In a similar vein, they blended further elements from MOBAs, such as a PvE element and sprawling map, hoping that these features would attract players.
Naturally, these mixed elements failed to play well with one another. IGN did a detailed review which showed exactly why Crucible simply wasn’t fun, and the lack of a cohesive identity and extremely slow game progression.
Trend chasing has worked for Amazon in the past, why not with video games?
If Andy Jassy is truly committed to making games, then he may need to completely rethink how Amazon approaches their business. In the past, they’ve been able to corner markets and find success by chasing trends.
Amazon can use the data on their website to figure out what products consumers are buying and where the highest profit margin is to be found and use that data to produce their own competitive products and drive out the competition.
For example, an open secret most retailers don’t want customers to know, is that most of them get their wires and cables dirt cheap. An HDMI cable might cost a major retailer less than a dollar per cable, but they sell them to customers for 10 to 20 dollars per unit.
Naturally, when someone types “HDMI cable” into Amazon, the top item is the Amazon Basics HDMI cable, priced at a competitive $8.61 for most locations.
By using their data about frequent purchases and profit margins, Amazon is effectively driving out other retailers hoping to sell similar items, lowering competition and pushing towards pseudo-monopoly.
The business of gaming isn't the same
This has been their primary business strategy since they started having the resources to compete with more established retailers. But this strategy rarely works in the world of gaming.
Gamers don’t care that Amazon can pump more money into their games, or that Amazon can market their games directly on Twitch (acquired by Amazon in 2014). They care that the games are fun, unique, and exciting.
Game development is one part artistic creativity, one part technical capability, and one part business. Amazon might be able to conduct its business well, and they can pay for technology and people with the expertise to use it, but they can’t buy creativity.