Amazon and the video games industry have been among the lucky few businesses boosted by the ongoing pandemic.
But the past few months have been unusually unkind to Amazon Game Studios, the offshoot of the tech giant that has consistently floundered despite its seemingly enormous advantages. Amazon’s games have struggled to connect with the notoriously skeptical gaming audience, and it’s looking increasingly likely they never will.
The promise of big things
In 2014, rumors abounded that the multinational technology conglomerate planned to dip its toes into the games industry for the first time. Stories began cropping up indicating that Amazon had grand designs around its recent acquisition of gaming streaming platform Twitch, coupled with whispers of AAA game development and even its own sub-$300 console.
Like other tech giants, such as Apple and Google, Amazon had long provided a platform for games to exist on its tablets through an app store, but had not taken a hands-on approach in creation. The successful launch of the PlayStation 4 in November 2013 had put to rest any lingering concerns about the viability of console gaming. This made it more attractive for Amazon to use its vast resources to grab the medium with both hands. (Amazon’s market cap was 164 billion in 2014, a figure that has increased to more than 1.5 trillion as of August 2020.)
Six years later, those dreams appear to have been deferred with games being released and hurried back into beta after cratering and multiple delays to major titles. Amazon has consistently struggled to release anything notable in a market capable of ignoring the efforts of one of the world’s largest companies.