Amazon Games Boss Reacts To Past Struggles


Retail giant Amazon has been in the business of video games for a long time, but the company's track record has been less than excellent, with games like Breakaway, Crucible, and a Lord of the Rings MMO getting canceled, and big-name developers like Kim Swift and Clint Hocking leaving the company. While Amazon has struggled, Amazon Games boss Christoph Hartmann, a former 2K executive, believes the company's best days are ahead of it.

Hartmann said Amazon's video game development ambitions are like climbing a mountain. Those who climb Everest don't usually get all the way there on their first try.

"Let's say you need four years for a game's development. You also have to build a team and that can take two years, so already it's six years. And then if you're going to try and climb Mount Everest on the first try, you might not make it to the top--you go to base camp one, base camp two, until you're ready to climb all the way up. So you have to add time for that," Hartmann told

Amazon's MMO New World, which proved successful in its beta with more than 200,000 concurrent players, will "show what Amazon Games is capable of," Hartmann said.

"Eventually, we'll get judged by our successes," he said. "I really strongly believe in--and this is similar to the way I built 2K--the holy grail is to have owned IP, internal studios, and you don't ship things until they're really ready. Some of the titles I worked on, like BioShock or Borderlands, the love you put into it and the pride you put in to get the titles as right as you can... It's the same here at Amazon with our internal studios."

For Crucible specifically, Hartmann admitted that one of the learnings he took from that game was to hold the game's release back until it was truly ready for market.

"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," Hartmann said. "We launched Crucible at a time when PUBG and Fortnite were super, super big. It was not the right decision to go into a market segment that has such big players everyone's always chasing. It's like trying to beat Call of Duty at its peak, or trying to do another Grand Theft Auto."

This is one of the reasons why Amazon has delayed New World so many times. "We really wanted to make sure that this time we get it right," Hartmann said. The game is slated for release on September 28.

"We have the advantage that we're not held hostage by quarters or fiscal years like traditional games developers are. So let's do the right thing for the player, not rush it out because, 'We have to hit October, and if I don't I have to hit March.' Yes, we have to build a business but we know that sometimes a month or two makes all the difference for a game," Hartmann said. "That's what really matters because we're making multiplayer service games and they have to be in the marketplace for ten years, so rushing something doesn't make sense."

The full interview contains many more details and fascinating insights from Hartmann about Amazon and its ambitions--go read it here.

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