Back in May, Amazon Game Studios raised eyebrows when it announced it was taking in-development MMORPG New World’s always-on alpha offline. According to the studio, the game would go offline so Amazon could “design major new features” that were “large in scope and create changes to the world that could be disruptive.” Even at the time, it sounded ominous; as we pointed out, that’s not usually how Western MMOs are developed, and those games that do go back to the drawing board mid-development often suffer delays and other problems, if they aren’t abandoned entirely. Indeed, that’s pretty much what Amazon did with Breakaway, which it ultimately canceled.
In June, the servers went offline as promised, as Amazon reiterated that development was continuing with a weirdly contradictory message that stated the studio “liked what it saw” in the alpha but still needed to close down this “phase” of the alpha to integrate the “content and features” testers asked for.
Then in July, Amazon announced it was working on a special collaboration with Leyou Technologies: a new free-to-play Lord of the Rings MMO. Curiously, Amazon revealed that “development is being led by the same Amazon Game Studios team behind New World, and a new team being assembled for this project will utilize resources from across AGS locations in Seattle, Irvine and San Diego.” The LOTR press release also referred to New World‘s progress specifically: “Amazon Game Studios recently wrapped a successful alpha test of New World, and looks forward to sharing updates on that game in the future.”
Suffice it to say, we haven’t heard any such updates since; Amazon’s social media has been quiet since the LOTR announcement, while the game’s Twitter account has posted exactly three replies since server-down: two promising the team is still hard at work on the game and will share updates when possible, and one referring to the game’s alpha forums, which quietly went offline in the last couple of weeks.
“Don’t worry, we are just upgrading our forums. Everything is going great,” the official account says.
Over on Reddit, concern has been mounting over both the missing forums and the fact that the company has apparently wiped all the official videos from New World’s YouTube page. It’s certainly possible, of course, that the truth lies with cautious voices on Reddit suggesting that the game’s sweeping changes require a fresh start for both the forums and the video base. That’s not stopping speculation over the game’s fate, however.