Have you ever wondered what is behind these "Amazon Game Studios"? Maybe we should shed some light on that, I thought to myself, so that we can then assess together whether the online role-playing game New World, which has been postponed to spring 2021, will be a blast – or whether it will perhaps sink into the endless sea of unplayed MMOs.
Amazon Game Studios was founded in August 2012, almost exactly eight years ago. The Amazon Appstore had been opened a year earlier and those responsible for it under CEO Jeff Bezos were looking for app developers in order to then publish a social game for Facebook in 2012: Living Classics. This was preceded and followed by a few more, little attention-grabbing games for the app store, until it was finally announced in 2014 that the developers now also want to make "big" games for the PC. Three studios under the name Amazon Game Studios emerged that wanted to take on this challenge.
Amazon Game Studios Seattle created the episode-like racing game for the Prime Video series The Grand Tour, which contained snippets from the episodes of the show with the cult characters Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May, and combined them with game sequences. The success of the game for the Playstation 4 and Xbox One was limited, but it was well received by fans of The Grand Tour. Crucible, managed by Relentless Studios in Seattle, a 3rd-person Free2Play multiplayer shooter that is currently in the closed beta phase on Steam, seemed more interesting.
In and of itself, the game was first released in May 2020, but after a few first test drives by interested gamers – and overshadowed by the strong competition from Riot's Valorant – it was clear that Crucible is far from ready for the release. Crucible ran away so many players by June 2020 that the decision-makers at Relentless decided to go back to the closed beta. The main criticism of those who have tried Crucible is the lifeless game world. Crucible just doesn't stand out from the many other Free2Play titles available and was just mediocre in May 2020; uninteresting. Since then, the developers and the remaining players have been in constant dialogue to make Crucible horny after all.
The Amazon Game Studio in Orange County, California, should have developed a team-based multiplayer brawler under the name Breakaway, but it was canceled on March 31, 2018. The game should have combined elements of League of Legends and Rocket League and even looked promising. But it seems as if the developers lacked the spark for an idea to make Breakaway something unique. That sounds a bit like Crucible's problem, if I can be honest with you.
We come to the last project: New World (buy now for € 38.99). Is there also the risk that this game by the game designers at Amazon Game Studios will go down in the crowd instead of sparkling like a shining star in the MMORPG sky? The development makes the impression a little. New World should have appeared in May 2020, but after the feedback from Alpha 1 testers on PvP, the developers turned the whole system upside down and shifted the focus of the sandbox MMO from PvP more to PvE. That doesn't have to mean anything bad. But the scheduled release in May 2020 was getting closer and closer, and there was still no sign of a beta for pre-orderers. Finally, in April 2020, there was the news that the release of the MMO had been postponed to August 2020. In July, the next piece of news, when the prepared beta players shuffled their feet again: The release of New World was postponed to spring 2021 in order to work primarily on the mid and end game.
Now that Crucible and New World are not really going smoothly, the question arises whether the people in charge at Amazon Game Studios have simply taken over. Someone at Amazon decided that it would make sense to enter the games market. It can be extremely lucrative, nobody will deny that. However, it is unlikely that a one-in-a-million instant hit will come around (for example the games from my column on the genre kings). In order for a game to stand out from the crowd, it either has to offer something unique – or come from a development team with a big name. I'm thinking, for example, of games by Rockstar or Naughty Dog, which reliably sell like sliced bread. Or to the people from Bioware, who have at least tried something new with Anthem (i.e. new for them).
However, Amazon Game Studios currently has nothing to show and has to prove itself first. The mammoth task of designing an online role-playing game with an original world is perhaps a little too big. The preview event for New World starts on August 25, 2020. Then I will possibly be able to see with my own eyes whether the world of Aeternum has interesting adventures to offer, with which New World can stand out from the other, current MMOs. Or not.
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