- Amazon has struggled for years to break into the lucrative video game business.
- That isn’t stopping games VP Christoph Hartmann, who has some very ambitious plans for the future.
- Hartmann believes Amazon is capable of producing several landmark franchises in the next decade.
- Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.
Did you know that Amazon, one of the biggest companies in the world, launched and folded a big-budget video game last year?
The game was called “Crucible,” and you’re forgiven if this is the first you’re hearing about it. Despite being free to play and available on the world’s largest gaming platform, Steam, “Crucible” quickly came and went from the top-100 chart. And after years of development and tens of millions of dollars, Amazon quietly killed “Crucible” five months after it came out.
It was emblematic of Amazon’s years-long struggle to break into the lucrative video game market, from its failed set-top box project to its current, totally under-the-radar video game streaming service, Amazon Luna.
That history, going back to at least 2014, isn’t deterring Amazon Gaming VP Christoph Hartmann.
“My personal goal is to create 2-3 AAA, live-service games, which capture millions of players and stay in the market for 10+ years,” Hartmann told The Verge in a recent interview.
That is a highly ambitious goal and one that few game makers manage to accomplish. There are only so many games like “League of Legends” and “Overwatch.”
He has reason to be optimistic: Amazon’s latest game, “New World,” saw a very positive reception in a beta.
But Amazon is still miles away from the kind of games that Hartmann is talking about – games like “Destiny” and “Fortnite” that not only attract millions of players but also operate as ongoing “live-service” worlds with evolving content.
Those types of games are rare in the video game industry.
One of the industry’s most prominent examples is “Grand Theft Auto V,” which has crossed three console generations and continues to pull in millions of players despite having launched way back in 2013. Primarily through its multiplayer service, “Grand Theft Auto Online,” millions of people continue to engage with the eight-year-old game.
Hartmann’s previous employer, Take-Two Interactive, publishes “Grand Theft Auto V” and the “NBA 2K” franchise – two games that operate as live services – so he assuredly knows just how difficult those types of games are to build.
It’s an especially fraught proposition at Amazon given both the company’s history in gaming and the fact that Amazon isn’t, fundamentally, a video game company. Amazon is an ecommerce company, a web storage company, and a supermarket chain owner. It’s even a major Hollywood production house at this point.
But, outside of owning video game streaming service Twitch, Amazon isn’t really focused on the video game business. It’s one of many things that Amazon does.
Hartmann appears to be aware of the issue and steadfast in his grand ambitions.
“At the beginning, they tried to replicate the formula which made Amazon great,” he said. “But making games is so much more complicated than it seems.”
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