Report exposes mismanagement, bro culture, and trend-chasing at Amazon Game Studios

    
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We’ve all heard about how someone or something is “too big to fail,” but in the case of Amazon Game Studios, it’s been one failure after another, with the cancellation of Breakaway after a development hiatus, the beta do-over and then full cancellation of Crucible, and a wholesale direction shift for New World, which led to major delays last year.

So the question then is what is going on over at AGS? A report from Bloomberg has offered some insight and it appears to confirm a lot of people’s suspicions about the studio.

Much of the report seems to suggest that the problems start at the top with Mike Frazzini, the leader of Amazon’s games division, who has yet to make a game and has reportedly frustrated veteran developers with basic takes and an inability to distinguish between gameplay and concept footage.

This holds hands with the revelation that of the number of high-profile game devs that were hired by AGS, only one remains, as well as reports that the studio has been busy trying to make games similar to big hits instead of designing a title of its own; Crucible is one such example, but there are other canned projects like the League of Legends-like game Nova that was scrapped in 2017 and the Fortnite-like game Intensity that was binned in 2019.

Other overall problems at AGS also include general discomfort with the Lumberyard engine that devs have been forced to use; one female employee’s experience where a disagreement with a male senior staffer ended with him making up some new positions above her and hiring only men into those roles; confirmation that initial designs of New World had Native American enemies that were redacted only after the studio hired a tribal consultant to confirm that was offensive; and the assertion that Amazon’s cloud-based gaming service Luna is run by the head of Amazon’s devices division.

source: Bloomberg via Kotaku. Cheers, Rndomuser and Phill.
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Motherball

I hope they shock the world with some revolutionary concept or mechanics. Not holding my breath, but it would be ironic, imo

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Ardra Diva

Good news for LOTRO, perhaps.

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MrReaper

Someone mentioned having white guys dressed in Speedos carrying a spear would work.

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socontrariwise

Am I the only one who smirked after reading everyone of the famous ones left except John Smedley? I guess he is corporate enough and not many other options …?

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Rndomuser

Smedley is at that point in life where he doesn’t care what to do as long as the pay and benefits are good.

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Dankey Kang

I think he’s been in that point all his life.

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Bruno Brito

Smedley doesn’t care about anything.

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Kickstarter Donor
squid

The game he’s working on hasn’t been revealed yet, so I suppose he’s still got some hope.

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MrReaper

What a waste of money, should of just funded kick starters and have them launch on a Amazon platform. Or brought the rights for old games like Wildstar.

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2Ton Gamer

This goes back to what I was saying a few weeks ago when someone here was saying that New World would keep CU from doing well. These two games are completely different and New World (from the betas I have been in summers 2019 and 2020) is just bland, but a pretty bland with no clear direction from the start. This report is not surprising and really plays into the changes of core direction this game has taken. I am a fan of listening to player feedback and making adjustments, but not to the core fundamentals of the game. I know little about game development, but I do know that those core ideas that are formed before anything is started is what should carry a game through development and be what everything is built on.

Another bad example of this was how SWTOR screwed up by not using the best engine for PVP which screwed them when the game was released where Ilum became for not. You need to implement things early and stay with your vision, assuming your vision isn’t shite to begin with.

I fear this game will not hang around long after the streamers have moved on (30-60 days after release if not weeks?) and with the wishy-washy know-nothings in charge, I do not see them putting in the work to make the game great after the population leaves. This will not be a case like Zenimax where if it doesn’t go well they will go back and retool things, this will be a corp shut-down. Also, this to me does not bode well for the LOTRO-Killer everyone keeps talking about, Amazon’s LOTR game.. This just made my anxiety for that game go through the roof.

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Arktouros

Article explains what I and others assumed about New World, it was just designed to take an existing concept (survival gankbox) and then blow it up to massive scale (10k users). Also that most of these projects are just there to push other Amazon products (Prime for consumers, Lumberyard/AWS for developers, etc).

I was in the very early New World alpha and can say there was no “natives” imagery or otherwise at that point so that must have been changed internally before it went out in any capacity. That could have explained why there were like 8 different kinds of mobs total at that stage. Pretty obvious there were people who would have big issues with that kind of setup. Hell there were people who had problems with that kinda setup even when there was none of it in the actual game anymore.

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Bruno Brito

It was changed internally for sure. I think even the conquistador helmets weren’t in the game, and if they were, i didn’t see none.

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Kickstarter Donor
squid

I was in the very early New World alpha and can say there was no “natives” imagery or otherwise at that point so that must have been changed internally before it went out in any capacity.

Yeah, I played one of the early external builds back in 2018 and there was none of that. I do seem to remember the very early (and vague) New World promotional materials implying it. They were playing heavily to supernatural/mysticism by then, but I think they still connected it to natives/tribal groups.

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Life_Isnt_Just_Dank_Memes

Real braintrust over there with such creative one word names for their games it’s shocking to think this could have happened.

Whomst among us hasn’t just put our junk on someone at work?

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Kickstarter Donor
Scarlet_Shocker

Tax writedown!

HalLundy
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HalLundy

And that’s why i have zero faith in their LOTR mmo.

Hell, they’ll probably shut down New World before releasing it. It’s what they do.