With Tomb Raider, Amazon is weaving its web to become a video game giant

After already two games launched (New World, Lost Ark), creative studios and a publishing unit, Amazon struck a blow in December by announcing the upcoming arrival of the next tomb raider under his banner.

As Microsoft and Sony PlayStation battle to find out whether call of duty will be in shared custody, or if Activision Blizzard King falls into the American fold, the video game sector will continue to see a few ambitious mature.

Owner of WeChat and related services in particular, Tencent has become the world’s leading video game publisher by acquiring many small, well-known studios (Riot Games, Supercell, Sumo Digital, Timi, Funcom, etc.) and by taking shares with larger ones. (Ubisoft, Epic Games, Paradox, Don’t Nod, Activision…). But Amazon also has some hopes of doing well by investing heavily in the video game industry in return.

In mid-December, the Seattle band even announced that they would release the franchise’s next installment. tomb raider after an agreement reached with the developer Crystal Dynamics. It will be a single-player narrative cross-platform game set in the adventures of the Lara Croft universe and published by Amazon Games. A nice coup followed by a newcomer who in the end is not one.

A project that is being built calmly step by step

Because this appetite for video games isn’t new at Amazon. For several years, the e-commerce giant has been building its project little by little, even patiently. The reflections began a little over six years ago, before taking a new turn and experiencing a boost with the arrival of Christoph Hartmann in the summer of 2018 as Vice President of Amazon Games Studios (now Amazon Games), then President since March 2022.

Amazon Games Orange County offices in Irvine, California.
Amazon Games Orange County offices in Irvine, California. © Amazon

It must be said that the man presented himself with quite a lineage, having contributed to the launch Grand Theft Auto, NBA 2K or Bioshock at 2K Games, the game publisher he co-founded. He was called upon to develop the games, but also to create studios and put Amazon’s footprint on the sector. “Both Amazon and Netflix consider the video game industry to be very interesting, very innovative,” explains Tech&Co Roisin Doyle, Global Director of Press Relations at Amazon, as we discuss Amazon’s video game projects at the recent Gamescom. . “It’s a growing industry and we want to put together as compelling a service as possible.”

Before then, Amazon lived in the middle of pixels, lacking inspiration or with too much inspiration from elsewhere. His first two games developed, Breaking out (in the spirit ofOverwatch) and Crucible (inspired by Battle Royals as Fortnite), were abandoned even before they had really seen the light of day for the first, after a few months for the second. Since then, the group has overhauled its specimen and is firing on all cylinders.

First of all, relying on Twitch, bought almost a billion dollars in 2014, to attract streamers who are very focused on live around the video game (bought on Amazon, if possible). A first step on the long-awaited path. Then Twitch became Prime Prime Gaming in 2020, increasing Prime membership for free with exclusive content on popular games (bonuses, packs, gear, etc.) and free PC or smartphone games to subscribers. The service is even associated with prestigious video game events such as the Game Awards or the Summer Game Fest.

Amazon is distilling its little white pebbles on the road to success, and Amazon is moving step by step. The American company has created or purchased four development studios (San Diego, Orange County/Irvine, Montreal and Relentless Studios in Seattle). Two PC games have increased its rating in recent years: New worlddesigned by Amazon Games Studios Orange County, and Lost Sheeta Smilegate game published by Amazon in Europe and the United States.

Two parts also of its activity now. “These are the two parts of our business in video games”, emphasizes Roisin Doyle. “There are our studios that create games and our publishing department to identify and support independent studios to promote their works.” Thus, Amazon Games has already announced the agreement to distribute the next one tomb raider from Crystal Dynamics, but also Blue protocol, a multiplayer action RPG title from Bandai Namco and a brand new license from Disruptive Games (Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1+2 and Diablo II: Reborn).

“We have had incredible success with New world and Lost Sheet“, admits the head of Amazon Games. “These are MMOs that we succeed in, but in the coming years we will also strive to diversify the playing styles to establish our reputation in the sector.” And to add with pain: ” 2023 will be a good year, a very good year even. We will have many more announcements to make.”

2023, the year everything will play out for Amazon?

Because Amazon Games has big ambitions and gives itself the weapons. The service also has a foothold in cloud gaming with its service Amazon Lunalaunched to compete the future defunct Google Stadia in the US and will survive it thanks to the power of AWS servers and better project preparation.

Amazon is thus weaving its web to establish itself in all areas of video games. Without making too much noise. “We’re not strangers, but we’re a bit of a new player in the arena,” we’re told. “People got to know us through New world and Lost Sheet. It will take a few more years and quite a few games to build our reputation. But it’s a big challenge we’re setting ourselves.’

It is probably not without reason that a few months ago his name had been whispered as a potential buyer of Electronic Arts. The case is not over either. A big fish, which would then bring its owner into another dimension and give a little more legitimacy to the overall project, which has known only one pitfall in recent years, the cancellation of the adaptation of the game from the universe from Lord of the Rings in 2021, after a conflict with Tencent, the studio’s new owner in charge of development.

“It’s an exciting time for gaming. The next five years are going to be interesting,” predicts Roisin Doyle. “We can’t say more at the moment, but we have a lot of things in store. We’ll talk about it in the summer and you won’t be disappointed”. Agreed to find out if Amazon has definitely entered the game or not.

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