Amazon has announced the launch of a new game development studio in Montreal, Canada. Much like their other studios based in Seattle, Orange County, and San Diego, they will focus on the creation of new AAA titles for PC and consoles. Is this the next Naughty Dog or Santa Monica Studios? Or is it the next in the long line of video game failures from Amazon?
The new studio
The new studio is made up of a whole host of industry veterans. It looks like Amazon is trying to stack the deck in their favour this time. Members of the leadership team include Luc Bouchard (head of production), Xavier Marquis (creative director), Alexandre Remy (head of product), and Romain Rimokh (content director). Their most recent project was working as the core team behind the tactical shooter Rainbow Six Siege. Unsurprisingly, the first game to come out of the new studio will be an online multiplayer title based on the new IP. This has the possibility of becoming one of the next big esports games, like Siege before it.
Comments from Amazon
Christoph Hartmann, vice president of Amazon Games commented on the opening of the new studio in the press release:
“The richness of Montreal creativity will be a valuable asset to our development and publishing teams. The team at our new studio, highly skilled and experienced, reflects our ambition to recruit the best talent to create the best games possible. The Montreal team brings us its expertise in online games as well as a passion for creating community-centric multiplayer experiences. I can’t wait to see this team get involved with our clients, to see it grow and develop its first project.”
The Creative Director of the new studio, Xavier Marquis, also added:
“Following our 8 years of experience with Siege, we are excited to leave on a blank page and take advantage of all the freedom that Amazon offers us to create a unique experience. From our first discussions, we were sensitive to their long-term strategic vision, as well as the extent of their technical expertise. It’s a pleasure to be able to collaborate with Amazon Games and we couldn’t be more excited to create a studio together.”
Amazon and gaming
This new studio could be the start of something new for Amazon, but if we look at their track record the outlook does not seem good. Their first game, Crucible, came out in May of last year and was met with a resounding yawn. The game was unfinished, unfun, and almost unplayable. Their next game, New World was due to debut in April 2020 and now, almost a year after the initial release date, it might be coming out in August 2021.
Why can’t Amazon, the richest, most powerful corporation in the world seem to get gaming right? They just don’t seem to understand the importance of video games. The gaming industry and the esports ecosystem make more money in a year than the international movie industry yet they seem to be playing second fiddle when it comes to investment and interest from the executives. They would be better off buying some esports stock or investing in esports and esports ETFs.
Large tech companies like Amazon and Google have yet to grasp that games are developed differently than basic software. Games are to software like the Mona Lisa is to an architectural sketch. They both require skill, but the game requires art. Until they realise that video games need a strong creative vision and freedom of choice, we will still see plenty of boring, paint by numbers games coming out of these studios.