Amazon Game Studios gave John Smedley a new online game team to run

If you wondered what John Smedley was up to following the death of Pixelmage Games and Hero’s Song in December, now you have an answer: Amazon Game Studios picked him up to run a sub-studio in San Diego.

“We’re excited to announce an all-new Amazon Games Studio based in San Diego and led by industry veteran John Smedley,” says a PR blast from AGS today. “John’s pioneering work helped define the modern MMO, and his influence can be felt in thousands of games that followed. He helped create the blueprint for fusing massive game worlds with vibrant player communities, a vision that we share at Amazon Game Studios. That’s why we’re excited to announce that John has joined Amazon Games Studios to lead an all-new team in San Diego.”

Apparently, Smed and his team are “already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world.”

Smed is well known to MMORPG players for his stewardship of MMORPG company Sony Online Entertainment (EverQuest, PlanetSide, DC Universe Online) for nearly two decades. SOE split from Sony in 2015 and became the Columbus Nova-funded Daybreak, while Smed himself left Daybreak in mid-2015 following a very public harassment campaign against him and the company.

At the beginning of 2016, Smed announced he’d founded Pixelmage Games and was Kickstarting an indie retro sandbox MMO called Hero’s Song, but several missteps made over the course of the year (we chronicled some of them just this week) led to the demise of the company and cancellation of the game just over seven weeks ago, resulting in refunds to those who’d donated to or purchased the game.

Amazon’s gaming unit spent most of last year scooping up MMORPG developers left and right, most famously from Seattle-based Guild Wars 2 studio ArenaNet. In September of 2016, AGS announced it was working on multiple new online games, including a straight-up MMORPG sandbox called New World.

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143 Comments on "Amazon Game Studios gave John Smedley a new online game team to run"

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Emperor Caligula

I am not sure what to think. I sort of gave mostly up on MMORPGs. I would be very surprised if it is more like another cash grab, like the n-th Zombie survival or whatever is the current fashion. After taking part in sinking Everquest Next I am not too trusting in Smed.

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Suikoden

Wow. That’s kind of awesome.

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socontrariwise

I can’t believe they give him another of that kind of position. He has run so many millions (billions over the years?) into the ground for Sony (was he even breaking even they would not have sold), then Daybreak, then this laughable thing called Hero’s Song with no creativity to make a GAME but instead attempting to rely on technology and buzzwords – and now he again has the chance to waste millions.
Is nobody keeping track??

Celestia
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Celestia

Wishing him and his team well.

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Paragon Lost

They can give him the chance, I’m not against that. What they do need to do though is keep a close eye on him. He needs to be kept reined in, otherwise he tends to do stupid things at times.

No one doubts his passion for the genre/hobby, but his common sense/critical thinking at times are found to be wanting off and on. They’ll regret it if they don’t keep a close eye on him.

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Space Captain Zor

Here lies proof that people are capable of giving someone who’s succeeded before a new opportunity despite the fact of a few back to back failures. I applaud Amazon on taking the risk, as it could pay off.

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Kevin McCaughey

Getting my popcorn out…. it’s always popcorn with Mr Smedley ;)

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Kevin McCaughey

You know what? I am warming to this guy. He is very human and speaks pretty candidly for an executive. He makes plenty of social media foibles and is flawed just like the rest of us. I’m going to wish him good luck with his new job, and I think he will create something interesting and with character.

Vaeris
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Vaeris

So this reminds me of when SOE bought Vanguard and we were told they were only going to be the publisher…and then they weren’t. I don’t see Smed being kept away from New World for very long. I only had passing interest in the title to just see what it was going to be about. Now, knowing that this happened…not so much as there is no way he won’t be consulted in some form for NW.

xpsync
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xpsync

I’m pretty content with ESO, and looking like for a long time to come, so not really concerned what they do with NW, sure… I’d love it to come out and be freaking awesome, but it’s nice to be “whatever” about it, i got a game.

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Pedge Jameson

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Alberto

Well amazon has deep pockets so Smed won’t have money problems now….

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

sony/soe had deep pockets too. i’m sure buying vanguard wasn’t very cheap. :P

Mewmew
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Mewmew

So he’ll like start to build up some project that he massively hypes and then move on when it’s 1/3rd done right? Isn’t that his thing now?

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Krzysztof Czajka

Did I build this ship to wreck?

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Blood Ravens Gaming

Wish Smed well, but question Amazon’s choice in bringing him on. Personally after the whole debacle with EQ, SOE and the slow demise of what’s left I have zero confidence and support in anything that involves Smed.

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Ian MacDonald

I’m excited for this because
A) Smed is a great developer that really needs good management and
B) I’ve heard Amazon has really good project management.

Yay.

xpsync
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xpsync

huh?

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

smed isn’t a developer. he’s a business guy and hype man.

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Kevin McCaughey

He is more developer than money man. Don’t get me wrong, he is by no means my favourite person, but he was very much on the development side and the developers side.

Reader

Personally I hope he is involved in something that is NOT an MMO.

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lottery_in_babylon

congrats Smed, best of luck man. Please eventually resurrect Hero’s Song ;)

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Bryan Correll

Paranoid theory: Smedley and his ‘sub-studio’ are a decoy to draw the attention of gamers so that the New World team can work in peace.

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Schlag Sweetleaf

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rafael12104

Lol! All that is missing is the red stapler.

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Pedge Jameson

To quote Oingo Boingo:
The white folks think they’re at the top, ask any proud white male
A million years of evolution, we get Danny Quayle

Aldristavan
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Aldristavan

Poor Smed was beating himself up on Twitter for looking fat in his pic. I felt bad. :(

headclot
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headclot

Smed is a great guy. Regardless of what you say Smed is a good person in my book. :)

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Francis Baud

I’ve heard about him a few times in the past, today I started digging a bit and I also like him so far. ^^

Solaris
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Solaris

Class act this guy. I received my Hero’s Song refund as promised. Very rare in crowd funding. I wish him well at Amazon.

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socontrariwise

I would think he made this part of the deal with Amazon and they were the main reason he shut it down, better outlook and all. So no, Amazon likely paid you.

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Reht

Yeah got mine too. It was classy and a smart move to boot since he knew this was coming. Refunding kills some of the negativity players had about it. Hope he does well at Amazon.

wreckedm
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wreckedm

Bringing on Smedley is a clever move. The love/hate for him guarantees attention and free promotion. Remember, Amazon is creating a platform hoping to eventually attract independent (from Amazon) developers. Amazon is directly building a few games to prime the pump, show off the platform etc.

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Sally Bowls

I like Amazon, thus was disappointed in this; they could do better. But it could turn out well, here’s hoping.

Estranged
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Estranged

I’ve been thinking this over and decided that other than WoW, the other MMOs were/are so niche in the West that his experience is worth more than the perceived controversy on a global level. He could do very well with Amazon oversight.

Another controversial dev could use a little Amazon oversight as well. Amazon believes in attempting to give a person tremendous value for their purchase, not expensive virtual products/ships/fantasies you might be able to use years down the line.

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Sally Bowls

I hope for “He could do very well with Amazon oversight.” It takes money, which Amazon has, game design skills/creativity – which we hope Smed has. But the oversight? Does AGS have the process in place to keep him in check? A EVE-like FFA PvP with elf zombies might appeal to him, but who is going to point out that is not the best niche to aim for?

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MesaSage

I’m conflicted as to whether or not this is a good thing. Guess we’ll have to wait until the actual game is announced but from the intro it doesn’t sound good. The only button not pressed was “in-app purchases”.

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Erithe Blightchaser

Starting to think Amazon game studios is more of a “the Producers” style deal, where it makes more money if it fails. With the copy paste genre mash-ups they have planned… apparent Esport aspirations and now Smed. It just seems like they are doing there damn hardest to make this fail.

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Emperor Caligula

OH no it is him again…

0peaibdo.jpg
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Pedge Jameson

How come your picture is messed up but mine isn’t. Tis’ new code is wonky or something?

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agemyth 😩

So much hate for Smed = He can be a bonehead with his promises and social media presence from time to time, but he’s got one hell of a résumé for this kind of work.

Good luck, dude. You don’t get to live the indie dream, but having that Amazon backing to run a new studio working on new online game ideas sounds like a sweet gig too.

Estranged
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Estranged

Amazon is OK with a slow burn scenario as well, which is great for a game dev.

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Armsman

I think you guys mistyped the title. It SHOULD read:
“Amazon Game Studios gave John Smedley a new online game team to ruin

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Jack Pipsam

This would either be really interesting or quite a cluster for Amazon.
While it does add more air to the idea that they’re hoping to become this new MMO super-force, Smed does make me skeptical to a degree.

Although if he’s just there to manage or guide more than anything else, I suppose it can’t be too bad.

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Wanda Clamshuckr

I don’t know what Smed is saying to the people who are hiring him, but someone please bottle it and market that shit.

Any other person on the planet with his history would be a pariah, left out in the cold. If there was any doubt that he was a silken tongued salesman, the evidence is right here.

Maybe he made a deal with a crossroads demon and is completely unable to be unemployed in the industry until his contract is up.

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McGuffn

MassivelyOP would know better than I, but I’m certain there aren’t thousands of games that were influenced by smedley.

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Jack Pipsam

Everquest alone is the basis of so much design and framework of many 3D MMOs.
I mean WoW’s lead designers were talking about how they’d make an MMO while they were playing EQ.

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Bryan Turner

I see Amazon’s strat, mix a bunch of random ingredients together and throw it at a wall until something sticks.

Or better yet reminds me of that scene from Taboo last night when the Chemist describes a new ingredient being put into Gunpowder comparing it to adding a baby to a family to a marriage.

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Armsbend

Is that show good?

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Bryan Turner

I’d recommend it, it takes a few episodes to pick up steam. The showrunner is the same guy that made The Peaky Blinders on Netflix, and it stars Tom Hardy.

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Armsbend

cool, I’ll check it out – thanks.

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MrNastyButler

Still know nothing of the game so I really can’t make a call on this. And if it’s free, we’ll see.

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McGuffn

We can make a few educated guesses. There’s a 95% chance it will be a billed as a spiritual successor to Star Wars Galaxies.

Of course when it releases and people realize it is really just a clone of Scrabble or Pong people will be disappointed, but it is really your fault for believing in things.

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Jack Pipsam

Oh mate if they announced a spiritual successor to pong, I would be having the best day ever.

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Sally Bowls

So Nolan Bushnell, the founder of Atari and Chuck E. Cheese, is launching a new virtual reality company called Modal VR, along with Jason Crawford (who invented the Modal tech and serves as the company’s chief executive) and that’s super cool.

But (more importantly to me) I played human Pong in virtual reality at the Machinima studios using Modal’s gear and that was goddamn amazing.

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odin valhalla

These star dev’s (for lack of a better term) continue to get gigs because honestly gamers are very poor consumers. Pre-orders on hope, early access alpha’s and crowd funding gives companies hope that early monetization can pave the way for a hit later on. It’s not a horrible business model, you get cash up front and you might actually hit pay dirt with a solid game people like. More often than not the games don’t hit, and what you have left are gamers out of pocket (their fault) and pretty jaded.

It adds to the septic side of the MMO community, as salty mmo vets expend energy trying to warn people about how they made a preorder on hope and the company failed them. I hope they build a great game, I hope this guy is successful (why would I want him to fail?) but as gamers we have to cease and desist the easy money. Looking for the next ESO/WOW/Millions of player’s title? Cool story bro, you front the capital, let me know when you get to beta and we’ll talk my money.

Caveat Emptor

ceder
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ceder

Amazon, if you want to see what happens when you hire a washed up snake oil dev, look no further than what happened with Disney when they hired Bill Roper with Disney Interactive. Reap what you sow.

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un4tt3nd3d

oh boy this is the best news EVER. brb going to the store to buy popcorn for the next 10 months.

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Sally Bowls

I share the sentiment but think you greatly overestimate their self-discipline/project management skills. IMO, we won’t even be through the “guys it’s great, hard-at-work, spiritual successor” phase in ten months. IMO, the popcorn will flow more in ’18 and ’19.

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Oyjord Hansen

/faceplam

Amazon Gaming is now officially stillborn.

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Anthony Clark

There goes that game.

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vinicitur

0.0 Huh?

I don’t get this. Sorry but.. no, not sorry. Smed is a walking disaster area. Yeah, I find him entertaining and might want to have a beer with him. But that is very different from giving him a job as a studio head.

Let’s just stop and look at his past a bit.

1. Was the studio boss at SOE when the studio essentially tanked and then was sold to CN.
2. Was studio head while developing EverquestNext. They rebooted development what? 3 or 4 times?
3. Twitter drama between him and Lizard Squad
4. Hero’s Song disaster of a fundraising
5. Calling H1Z1 a home for SWG players. How delusional can you get?

Does that look like a decent resume to anyone?

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Pedge Jameson

He is a sloppy, self absorbed piece of shit who slave drives people while he sits on top and then ruins it and blames everyone but himself. He is walking living cancer that I wish we had DEV licensees because his would be invalid as he’s nothing but a polished publisher with DEV on his ass..

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Loopy

Did he come over to your house and kick your puppy too?

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Pedge Jameson

Old Yeller, shot him cold dead he did…we let him take him behind da’ barn. An’da afterwards as’a we cried. He did not shed no tear dag’nabbit. Just said Sump’tin about makin’ a Landmark for us. Then he dun’ next year took it away.

headclot
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headclot

I want to point a few things out.

1.When he was Boss of SoE it was owned and funded by Sony. Sony was not in a very good financial State. It was piss poor TBH. Anything not making money or breaking even was to be sold. Smed managed to make Planet Side 2 break even if I recall correctly when It was loosing money.
2. Everquest Next will more than likely be rebooted by Smed if Heroes Song is anything to go by. As well as past remarks about the “Amazon AWS allowing us to do crazy things”
3. LizardSquad made bomb threats about the aircraft he was on and DDOSed the SoE servers.
4. An major Investor Pulled out because it was not hitting desired sales.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

SOE is amongst a great many sony companies that were poorly managed by their heads and spent money like mad while being unprofitable.

guess who was head of SOE making those decisions?

4) is pure conjecture based on claims of maybe* mishearing things in an interview (or a typo?).

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Crowe

I would click the thumbs-up button if that worked correctly.

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Utakata

I think it’s one of those case where certain things don’t work well on the browser you are using. However, it works fine on the machines they’re using. So those issues may never get fixed for our end. :(

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agemyth 😩

Are they aware these issues exist? Have you tried sending a tip with “Bug Report” checked? Or have you simply tried to invoke the name of Bree in a comment to summon her? Wait, where did the little person icon go that searched for people to “@”??

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Utakata

The latter explanation seems to be more effective in my experience as demonstrated below. :)

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Denice J. Cook

Oh! Well that explains a lot. Except for how Amazon could possibly look the other way at so many failed games….

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Sray

This could a great thing. Smedley is a good designer, and a good analyst; but he’s just a trend chaser as a businessman. Putting him in a position of being in charge but not “in charge in charge” allows him build a game and let the higher ups figure out how to make money with it: that means we get Smedley the game builder and market analyst, minus Smedley the bandwagon jumper. That’s a project that could be very worthwhile.

deekay_plus
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deekay_plus

what’s teh source on him doing design or development work? outside of pixel mage? he’sa business side suit and a hype man. not a developer. his role at SOE was to greenlight projects not to design them. and to help market them.

we don’t know what if any development work he did at pixel mage games.

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Sray

I did misspeak by saying “designer” but he is a game builder: the very concept of Everquest was Smedley’s to start with; and he knows how to put a team together to build a game. Under his stewardship, SOE launched two Everquest games and Star Wars Galaxies: those have become considered classics. He assembled the teams that built those games, and gave them the resources (and that’s more than just money and a oiffice) in order to get those games built. That makes him more than just a hype man in a suit.
Take him having to worry about running an entire company out of the equation, and let him get to just building a game… that could be a worthwhile project. Keep in mind that the other side of that is that it could also suck.

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enamel

Nice, another glimmer of hope for Amazon’s game efforts for sure. Let’s hope the meat grinder that is Amazon can produce some tasty sausage.

xpsync
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xpsync

He was always a little too “chipper” over the failure of Hero’s Song and i always wondered why?
Anyway, I’ve lost all hope in this new Amazon MMO that’s for sure, i love the character Smed he rocks and is so entertaining, but the actual product smed is nothing but a trail of failed mmo’s, a mess, there isn’t anything he did which was great? all he did was ruin greatness. What the fuck is amazon thinking?

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Isabella Bennett

Yay, San Diego! That’s my hometown! How cool is it that Amazon is making MMOs? I hope one of them does well. :3

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Armsbend

I was really hoping Amazon would tie their cart to younger more talented talent.

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drgreenhoe

Time will tell. I am willing to give him a chance.

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Crowe

I have given him several.
/pass

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Alex Js.

RIP another MMORPG project…
I have no faith in this person after seeing what he’s been doing since SWG days and especially after extensive first-hand experience with PlanetSide 2.

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Tandor

As someone who has played Smed’s games since 1998, calling a couple of them my MMO home for many years, and who has always had enormous respect for the guy despite his attempts to drive that respect from me (think Ubisoft and ProsiebenSat.1 – SWG players may have felt let down by the NGE but at least they were still being looked after, while European players were twice sold down the river), I did find the style of game he’d gone with on leaving DBG (not to mention EQN while still there) profoundly disappointing.

Given that the new game is described as “an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch” I can only say it doesn’t sound any more impressive or encouraging. Oh well, back to ESO, at least ZOS have worked out the style of game that does well these days – and across the platforms too. I hope another developer picks up on that. Shame it doesn’t look like being Smed.

xpsync
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xpsync

I’ve pretty much gone purist with ESO and this “was” the only thing i had on the radar, not anymore. Thank you ZOS for ESO.

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Lights and Music

already hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world.”

Please god no.

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Panzerbjorne

I don’t understand why you guys think it’s tin foil hat worthy to suggest he got this juicy offer while HS was still going, saw his game was going to tank and decided to bail.
It makes a lot more sense to me than him bailing on his passion project before it was even finished and issuing refunds because he’s a great man with integrity just because it was the right thing to do.

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angrakhan

MO needs to revisit their little “5 reasons why Hero’s Song failed” article and put “Smed got hired by Amazon” as the #1 reason.

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Kayweg

Freaky, i was thinking exactly that, 2 minutes before i read your reply.

xpsync
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xpsync

You’re probably right, but that’s boring.
/puts tinfoil hat back on

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