Amazon’s New World has made it to launch day, but the biggest test is yet to come

New World arrives Tuesday. Whether it flops could determine the future of Amazon Games.

Scene from Amazon's New World

New World launches on Tuesday, after four delays. It could be Amazon's first big hit.

Image: Amazon

Amazon's New World launches on Tuesday, marking the end of a long and bumpy road to release day for the company's most pivotal video game release to date. There's a lot riding on New World, a massively multiplayer online game in the vein of iconic successes like Blizzard's long-running World of Warcraft and Square Enix's immensely popular Final Fantasy XIV.

If the game succeeds, New World will mark a rare success for a technology company in the gaming space. With the exception of Microsoft, which entered the console game industry nearly two decades ago, tech firms have tried time and again to use their engineering talent and resources to crack the code behind making successful video games. Almost every attempt has failed, but Amazon is the closest to having a hit on its hands. If it flops, we could see Amazon's gaming ambitions go the way of Google's.

Amazon has taken the time to get New World right. It's been delayed four times since the beginning of last year, in part due to the COVID-19 pandemic but also to ensure the game doesn't repeat Amazon's past failures.

  • Amazon's first big-budget release under the Amazon Games label was Crucible, a multiplayer online battle arena game drawing influences from League of Legends and Overwatch. It never gained traction, and the company put the game back into a beta state before canceling it outright months later.
  • "Only ship when you're ready," Amazon Games Vice President Christoph Hartmann told GamesIndustry.biz last week. "For me, that's probably something we should have known better — you don't [rush into] a territory where you already have clear market leaders."
  • "It's important for us to listen to players and important for us to have a good launch," New World game director Scot Lane told Protocol last month. "A good launch is everything in MMOs." Lane and his team made the call in August to delay New World's launch one month.

Players are excited for New World. A closed beta for the game that started in July, which required customers to pre-purchase the title on Steam for $40, amassed "well over 1 million" players, Amazon confirmed to me.

  • As of Monday, without the game yet being live for all players, New World was ranked No. 16 on Twitch, sandwiched between World of Warcraft and Genshin Impact with more than 40,000 viewers.
  • New World's launch is expected to draw major Twitch streamers, including popular MMO streamer Asmongold, who had harsh words for the game in its beta state but has said he has faith in it because of how well the development team has listened to player feedback.
  • "If there's anything we've learned in the last few years, the more we engage players the better it is for everyone," Lane said. "The game is going to get bigger and bigger over time, and it's going to be based on what they're asking for."

Big Tech and gaming haven't mixed well. Tech titans have long ignored the game industry in their search for growth and profits in advertising, search engines and computing hardware. But video games have become too big to ignore, and now Silicon Valley wants in.

  • Amazon — though it failed with Crucible last year and recently canceled a Lord of Rings game as well — has a better track record than most. It owns Twitch, and the company has dabbled in game development for the better part of the last decade to build out the software libraries of its hardware products, like the Fire TV and Kindle Fire tablets.
  • Google is perhaps the biggest cautionary tale here. The company launched its Stadia cloud gaming service in 2019 after making big promises about server performance and its in-house game development ambitions. Yet earlier this year, Google shut down its internal studios before ever releasing a game, and the platform hasn't lived up to the hype.
  • Google still has YouTube's livestreaming component. Facebook has a streaming competitor of its own and is also scooping up studios to build out a first-party game library. Apple launched a subscription service called Arcade, though its treatment of mobile game developers has sparked a contentious legal saga that's still ongoing. Netflix is serious about gaming now, too.

New World isn't likely going to be an overnight success. Traditional MMOs typically charge a monthly fee and release content on a schedule to keep players signed up and invested. And pretty much the remainder of the industry's most popular games are all free-to-play, using microtransactions and seasonal content models to stay fresh and earn money. Amazon isn't taking either approach. New World costs $40 out the gate, and the company is asking players to put a fair amount of faith into a studio that's done nothing but cancel games until now.

It's not clear the development team can keep players hooked long enough to make New World competitive with gaming's most addicting live service titles. But Amazon has come a long way to get to launch day, and it's more clear now than ever that gaming isn't just a sideshow or hobby for the ecommerce giant. If New World doesn't flop, Amazon will have come a lot further than its peers on establishing a genuine and lasting presence in gaming.

Entertainment

'The Wilds' is a must-watch guilty pleasure and more weekend recs

Don’t know what to do this weekend? We’ve got you covered.

Our favorite things this week.

Illustration: Protocol

The East Coast is getting a little preview of summer this weekend. If you want to stay indoors and beat the heat, we have a few suggestions this week to keep you entertained, like a new season of Amazon Prime’s guilty-pleasure show, “The Wilds,” a new game from Horizon Worlds that’s fun for everyone and a sneak peek from Adam Mosseri into what Instagram is thinking about Web3.

Keep Reading Show less
Janko Roettgers

Janko Roettgers (@jank0) is a senior reporter at Protocol, reporting on the shifting power dynamics between tech, media, and entertainment, including the impact of new technologies. Previously, Janko was Variety's first-ever technology writer in San Francisco, where he covered big tech and emerging technologies. He has reported for Gigaom, Frankfurter Rundschau, Berliner Zeitung, and ORF, among others. He has written three books on consumer cord-cutting and online music and co-edited an anthology on internet subcultures. He lives with his family in Oakland.

Sponsored Content

Why the digital transformation of industries is creating a more sustainable future

Qualcomm’s chief sustainability officer Angela Baker on how companies can view going “digital” as a way not only toward growth, as laid out in a recent report, but also toward establishing and meeting environmental, social and governance goals.

Three letters dominate business practice at present: ESG, or environmental, social and governance goals. The number of mentions of the environment in financial earnings has doubled in the last five years, according to GlobalData: 600,000 companies mentioned the term in their annual or quarterly results last year.

But meeting those ESG goals can be a challenge — one that businesses can’t and shouldn’t take lightly. Ahead of an exclusive fireside chat at Davos, Angela Baker, chief sustainability officer at Qualcomm, sat down with Protocol to speak about how best to achieve those targets and how Qualcomm thinks about its own sustainability strategy, net zero commitment, other ESG targets and more.

Keep Reading Show less
Chris Stokel-Walker

Chris Stokel-Walker is a freelance technology and culture journalist and author of "YouTubers: How YouTube Shook Up TV and Created a New Generation of Stars." His work has been published in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

Workplace

Work expands to fill the time – but only if you let it

The former Todoist productivity expert drops time-blocking tips, lofi beats playlists for concentrating and other knowledge bombs.

“I do hope the productivity space as a whole is more intentional about pushing narratives that are about life versus just work.”

Photo: Courtesy of Fadeke Adegbuyi

Fadeke Adegbuyi knows how to dole out productivity advice. When she was a marketing manager at Doist, she taught users via blogs and newsletters about how to better organize their lives. Doist, the company behind to-do-list app Todoist and messaging app Twist, has pushed remote and asynchronous work for years. Adegbuyi’s job was to translate these ideas to the masses.

“We were thinking about asynchronous communication from a work point of view, of like: What is most effective for doing ambitious and awesome work, and also, what is most advantageous for living a life that feels balanced?” Adegbuyi said.

Keep Reading Show less
Lizzy Lawrence

Lizzy Lawrence ( @LizzyLaw_) is a reporter at Protocol, covering tools and productivity in the workplace. She's a recent graduate of the University of Michigan, where she studied sociology and international studies. She served as editor in chief of The Michigan Daily, her school's independent newspaper. She's based in D.C., and can be reached at llawrence@protocol.com.

Workplace

It's OK to cry at work

Our comfort with crying at work has changed drastically over the past couple years. But experts said the hard part is helping workers get through the underlying mental health challenges.

Tech workers and workplace mental health experts said discussing emotions at work has become less taboo over the past couple years, but we’re still a ways away from completely normalizing the conversation — and adjusting policies accordingly.

Photo: Teerasak Ainkeaw / EyeEm via Getty Images

Everyone seems to be ugly crying on the internet these days. A new Snapchat filter makes people look like they’re breaking down on television, crying at celebratory occasions or crying when it sounds like they’re laughing. But one of the ways it's been used is weirdly cathartic: the workplace.

In one video, a creator posted a video of their co-worker merely sitting at a desk, presumably giggling or smiling, but the Snapchat tool gave them a pained look on their face. The video was captioned: “When you still have two hours left of your working day.” Another video showed someone asking their co-workers if they enjoy their job. Everyone said yes, but the filter indicated otherwise.

Keep Reading Show less
Sarah Roach

Sarah Roach is a news writer at Protocol (@sarahroach_) and contributes to Source Code. She is a recent graduate of George Washington University, where she studied journalism and mass communication and criminal justice. She previously worked for two years as editor in chief of her school's independent newspaper, The GW Hatchet.

Enterprise

Arm’s new CEO is planning the IPO it sought to avoid last year

Arm CEO Rene Haas told Protocol that Arm will be fine as a standalone company, as it focuses on efficient computing and giving customers a more finished product than a basic chip core design.

Rene Haas is taking Arm on a fresh trajectory.

Photo: Arm

The new path for Arm is beginning to come into focus.

Weeks after Nvidia’s $40 bid to acquire Arm from SoftBank collapsed, the appointment of Rene Haas to replace longtime chief executive Simon Segars has set the business on a fresh trajectory. Haas appears determined to shake up the company, with plans to lay off as much as 15% of the staff ahead of plans to take the company public once again by the end of March next year.

Keep Reading Show less
Max A. Cherney

Max A. Cherney is a senior reporter at Protocol covering the semiconductor industry. He has worked for Barron's magazine as a Technology Reporter, and its sister site MarketWatch. He is based in San Francisco.

Latest Stories
Bulletins