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.