September 28, 2021
Image: Amazon Games
This week in Protocol Gaming, your weekly guide to the business of video games: Amazon's long-awaited MMO releases, Activision Blizzard settles one of its many lawsuits, and the TV-game industry crossover continues to pick up steam.
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Amazon's New World launches today, 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 the title, a massively multiplayer online game in the vein of iconic successes like Blizzard's long-running World of Warcraft.
If the game succeeds, New World will mark a rare success for a technology company in the gaming space. With the exception of Microsoft, 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.
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.
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.
New World isn't likely going to be an overnight success. Traditional MMOs typically charge a monthly fee, while the remainder of the industry's most popular games are all free-to-play. 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 a competitive live service success. 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.
A version of this story appeared on Protocol.com.
Michael Pryor, co-founder of Trello (now a part of Atlassian), explains what he's learned along the way and his advice for other companies that are looking to build a truly collaborative culture that keeps employees feeling connected — from wherever they choose to work.
This year has been filled to the brim with standout indie games and troves of hidden gems, and October's release slate doesn't deviate from that theme in the slightest. Hyper Light Drifter developer Heart Machine is dropping its long-awaited next game, Solar Ash, on Oct. 26 for PlayStation and PC. The award-winning role-playing detective thriller Disco Elysium also arrives on the Nintendo Switch on Oct. 12, while the No Man's Sky-inspired exploration game Jett: The Far Shore drops on Oct. 5. All look well worth checking out.
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