Smed’s new Amazon studio is basically Pixelmage Games

Amazon Game Studios announced yesterday that it had picked up MMORPG genre veteran John Smedley to helm one of its up-and-coming online game studios. Today, it published a blog post with a photograph of the team, which appears to show that Smed brought along with him several familiar faces from Pixelmage Games. Well, more than several — it looks like the bulk of the team, minus some of the artists and AI expert Dave Mark.

Shown in the photograph is Smed (hiding in the back!), along with Scott Maxwell, Steve Freitas, Andy Skirvin minus a beard (nice try, Skirvin, but we’re canny), Michael Hunley, Jay Beard, Bill Trost, Toby Brousil (pretty sure), Matt McDonald, Jim Buck, Steve George, Paul Carrico, and Michelle Butler. Which is almost all of ’em. No need to worry about whether those guys landed on their feet after their studio folded seven weeks ago– Smed’s new Amazon studio is basically Pixelmage Games, though to be fair, we don’t know what its name is or the particulars of the game it’s working on.

Amazon rather breathlessly told gamers that Smed and his new 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.”

Hero’s Song and Pixelmage Games closed down in late December following a canceled Kickstarter, a small Indieogo, and apparently poor early access sales on Steam. Players were refunded for their purchases and donations. Smed himself, of course, is well known for his nearly-20-year reign at SOE and then Daybreak, which he famously departed in 2015.

Source: AGS
SHARE THIS ARTICLE
Code of Conduct | Edit Your Profile | Commenting FAQ | Badge Reclamation | Badge Key

LEAVE A COMMENT

86 Comments on "Smed’s new Amazon studio is basically Pixelmage Games"

Subscribe to:
Sort by:   newest | oldest | most liked
Reader
Raimo Kangasniemi

I get the feeling that Hero’s Song might have lived if this new project wouldn’t have been in horizon. Good luck for them, at least now they should have good resources.

Reader
socontrariwise

So a team decides to make a game nobody wants to fund really – and then Amazon decides that is a great moment to hire them…?

Reader
Neurotic

Love the man, love the team. Ahead, Warp Factor 10!

Reader
Jeff

I honestly have more faith in Smed than I do Amazon studios.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

smed wastes other people’s money the movie part 3: amazon has money to burn.

Reader
Kevin McCaughey

Smed is nothing if not a “climber”. Let’s see how far up the greasy pole of Amazon he gets.

Reader

So I have to ask. Did the latest game get killed off so he could go work for Amazon? Either way, I am always extremely cautious with his games. To much PTSD from the SOE era.

Reader
Kevin McCaughey

It’s hard not to gravitate toward that conclusion given this latest revelation. Maybe they thought “This isn’t going well…”, Amazon offered to pay for the refunds if they came over and Smed said “Yeehaa Horsey!” I suspect this is the case, but we will never know.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Alien Legion

#NeverSmed

Reader
mcsleaz

They should hire Derek Smart too, lol :)

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
ogged451

or Paul Barnett ?

Siphaed
Reader
Siphaed

So Amazon is investing in a company that failed to spark consumer interest not once, but TWICE? I get that Amazon has strongholds in West Coast, but just because smoking weed over there is legal, doesn’t mean that they should be doing it all the time! Seriously, I know what they’re smoking because this bad decision making just writes it on the wall. Unbelievable!

Reader
rafael12104

Reader
Hirku

God, I love this guy. The way he makes some of you completely lose your shit is endlessly entertaining. I’m thrilled by this news and hope he’ll be around to rattle the monkey cages for years to come.

Reader
Jeff

Oh he will, he use to just own haters who would buy tickets to the SOE fanfest just to vent at him, on the other hand you could tell his hands were really tied about a lot of things despite supposedly running the company.

Reader
MrNastyButler

Heh, so did they close the studio so Amazon didn’t have to buy them out? I love how the business world works.

Reader
Melissa McDonald

People hate on Smedley to a crazy extent. Never have understood it. Looks to ME like he found all these people jobs. I’m willing to bet a dollar that he’s a good man.

Reader
Blood Ravens Gaming

I don’t think many will argue whether he is a good man with good intentions, but unfortunately he has failed one to many times for many in the gaming world to to invest much if any trust in him or his ability to produce an actual product.

wreckedm
Reader
wreckedm

Agreed. I respect the fact he brought his team with him. Also, no doubt many of these people surely could have found other opportunities. That they stuck with him also says a lot.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
CthulhuDawg

Glad to hear it. It may be an unpopular opinion around here but I love me some Smed. I like that he is a real pcgamer, I like that he is upfront, straightforward and the way he talks about the games he’s involved in is always so enthusiastic it gets me hyped. I would have loved to see Hero’s Song get fully developed but at least he got some experience as a solo act and brings some of that to his new gig back in the big leagues. I’m rooting for you Send, I’m rooting for everyone at Pixel Mage.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Loyal Patron
Jack Pipsam

Well that is at least one good thing to come out of this in the short term.

I was worried that Smed tanked the jobs of some folks over Hero’s Song, but if he was quickly able to make a deal with Amazon to protect as many jobs as possible than that is a very honourable and fantastic thing to do.

deekay_plus
Reader
deekay_plus

so basically pixel mage was all a horse and pony show?

did they refund pixel mage’s investors?

Reader
Reht

I don’t think it was a horse and pony show, i think it was a start up that was failing and Smed got an offer he couldn’t refuse at the right time, same decision any other smart person in those circumstances would make. Yes, they refunded the money.

Reader
Patreon Donor
Schlag Sweetleaf

pid
Reader
pid

That’s hilarious. I can’t believe it. I was so afraid for the game and studio and now I see they’re better off that way. Bezos probably told to the Smed to reimburse everybody so that any remaining legal ties to backers are cut.
If nothing else, that’s one of the more respectful moves in the industry I’ve seen. There were plenty of cases where crowdfunding turned non-indie and I didn’t like those at all.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Patreon Donor
Loyal Patron
Ashfyn Ninegold

Yup. Bibbity bobbity boop.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

hehe what you all just thought he was a nice guy, lol, he was was so encouraging, almost begging people to take their money back, this was already in the works way back then no doubt about it.
The reality me, I’m so glad they all are working, that’s all that matters end of day; the consumer gamer me, disappointed with the games these game makers play. It’s tired.

Reader
Reht

Yes i know it was, it was still a nice gesture for him to do it considering the studio allegedly ran out of money and the money he refunded came from somewhere, his pocket?

Reader
Shiro Madoushi

Now they just need the hypemaster David Georgeson and a concept that’s overflowing with pie-in-the-sky features.

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

That would make it complete!

Reader
Wanda Clamshuckr

I don’t know about Ponytail’s inclusion, but I’m sure the rest will follow. He doesn’t do business any other way.

Reader
Wendigo Runner

Huh. Grats team on your continued employment. Good news is good news.

I look forward to seeing where this goes. Not much else to say about this at the moment.

Reader
Pedge Jameson

To quote Tom Servo: “Crow You lived in the Great Depression didn’t you?” :P

Reader
Pedge Jameson

If I were Smed I would hide in the back too. And why would they need passes? Amazon staff would figure they were there delivering potted vegan product or something what do they care?
Amazon online gaming. Realllly???
Could you see in a few years someone’s keychain with an…
“AMAZON ONLINE Authenticatior”?
Wait…AMACON!
OH GOD! IT’S TOO FUNNY!

Reader
Meanie

What?

Reader
Pedge Jameson

I know right?

Reader
MesaSage

motley_crue.jpeg
xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Apparently they will be working on a brand new pixel game titled Hero’s Sonnet.

Reader
Loyal Patron
Patreon Donor
Kickstarter Donor
johnwillo

I heard it was, “Zero’s Song.”

xpsync
Reader
xpsync

Nice!

Reader
Patreon Donor
Veldan

Amazonnet?

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Given this development it begs the question –

Did Smed intentionally let the crowdfunding tank because he was in discussions with Amazon about bringing his team under their banner?

I know some folks were discussing it the other day, but this lends some credibility to the allegations.

Or, it could be that he approached them after Pixelmage closed down and they were happy to work with him on another project.

Either way, they’ve got the financial backing finally. Now to wait to see what they end up working on, and if it turns out to be any good.

Reader
Reht

No, from what i heard this all started a bit after, but not immediately following, the KS failure but was in the works before closing Pixelmage.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Greaterdivinity

Yeah, I don’t think there was anything “sinister” behind this by any means. But I do wonder if knowing that there was the possibility to reform under Amazon impacted any efforts to find additional outside funding after the KS.

Doesn’t matter either way, really, especially with them providing refunds for anyone that backed them (IIRC). Just me engaging in another largely pointless series of hypothetical situations because I don’t already have enough stuff rattling around in my brain -_-

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

I’m kinda reading the situation like they knew PixelMage was going sideways and reached out to Amazon. I’m thinking once they secured the deal, I’m guessing there was some legal stuff to deal with via Kickstarter, and it’s just good PR (Imagine if he hadn’t given the money back and just announced he was at Amazon …. so much of the teenage angst).

The closure seemed super abrupt – like if they were that far off the rails that soon after launch something was up. My gut is that this was probably what it is.

Reader
Reht

There was nothing to do with Kickstarter. They cancelled their kickstarter and tried the Indiegogo route with early access on Steam. Don’t think there is any legal follow up on Indiegogo, but no idea on Steam.

Reader
Reht

Yeah, i got my money back. He rolled the dice on a start up and like many start ups, it didn’t work. I can’t fault him for that and hold no hard feelings for him or the team. I do hope it works out for them at Amazon. I would love to see another great game released.

Reader
Armsman

So, Smed has another game studio in San Diego. Note to Staff: If they tell you to come out to a meeting in the parking lot; be sure you’ve gotten all your personal items from your Cubicle first. ;)

Reader
Armsbend

I’ve really lost a lot of faith in Amazon over this news. Pixelmage – and Smedley – are a joke.

Reader
Crowe

While I agree with your first sentence completely (and I’m a f-ing Amazon stockholder), I’m not sure I can go with you all the way on the second. While I believe Smedley is a joke, I’m not willing to consign the rest of Pixelmage as quickly. Mostly because I don’t know anything about them. However, Smedley isn’t the professional we had hoped he would be (just use his Twitter war issue as an example) and I’m really not happy to see Amazon go this direction.

Reader
orionite

Can you share why you lost faith in Amazon. I mean, besides the very minor acquisition/formation of a tiny development studio, which will have exactly zero impact on the overall bottom line.

*Sorry this sounds a lot more snarky than intended. Genuinely curious why you think Amazon is going downhill.

Reader
Crowe

Respectfully, I don’t see how you think this will have exactly zero impact on the bottom line. They’ve hired a group of people to make an Amazon product. If there was going to be zero impact on the bottom line then why would Amazon even be bothering? Of course they see this as an opportunity to increase their offerings. (don’t worry, I didn’t take it snarky though!) :)

Things that have made me lose faith in Amazon:
– putting a dev I strongly believe is past his prime in charge of… anything
– the Amazon Fire (phone tied to a single carrier — AT&T)
– the hotel thing (Destinations? can’t remember if that was what it was called)
– the drone thing

There have been a bunch of Amazon moves over the last decade or so that have really made me shake my head. Of course, there’s usually something unrelated cool to counteract it (example: Bosch was excellent!). Obviously, if I’m here, I’m a MMO fan so it was with great interest that I watched the game announcements… most of which left me flat — I hate MOBAs and haven’t found a survival game yet that was interesting. While I have some minor hopes for New World, I also haven’t enjoyed sandbox games. Then they add Smedley to the mix and put him in charge of something again. While I’ve seen a list of the successes (in others’ opinions), I haven’t liked a single thing he’s been involved with since EQ2 and even that has gone downhill over the last 6 or 7 years. Anyways, not trying to rant but you seemed genuinely curious so I thought you deserved a decent reply.

Reader
Armsbend

I don’t think Amazon is going downhill (although for the first time ever they have missed delivery 3 times in a row in a week) as they can absorb anything at this point. For me, it simply begs the question: why? Why hire a bunch of has beens who are coming fresh off of a huge failure? Amazon can hire anybody.

Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Serrenity

I can’t claim to know Amazon’s rationale here – but Smed, like him or not, has a pretty impressive resume. He still presided for years over an insanely successful multi-MMO studio. We lay a lot of crap at his feet, but it’s hard say to how much deserves to be there, having not been in the situation at all.

When you look at it like that – and Amazon thinks “I can get this guy who was really successful for a number of years, or this person I’ve never heard of to throw money at…” it’s not that strange of a decision.

Reader
Armsbend

Would I consider something Sony decided was best to discard “insanely successfully”? No, I would consider it an abject failure.

Estranged
Reader
Kickstarter Donor
Estranged

If my waterproof shower speakers don’t make it on time this week, I will blame it on Smed.

Reader
Targeter

Hey, we all called it yesterday!

Reader
Armsbend

I’m curious how bree will stick her head in the sand on this story.

wpDiscuz