Amazon cancels yet another game, proving it can’t be great at everything
That Lord of the Rings MMO we’ve all been excited for has been scrapped.
Amazon has failed again. I know that these aren’t words that we are used to hearing, but it’s true. The ecommerce giant, which has been responsible for the fall of libraries and brick-and-mortar retail stores for the past 20 years, has been trying its hand at video games. So far, that venture has been a complete bust, with the latest example being the cancellation of its Lord of the Rings game.
Amazon is really good at a lot of things. The company started in the 90s as an online book store and has since grown to be the largest book retailer globally, taking out just about every other book store on its way. But that wasn’t enough. The company quickly evolved into the biggest ecommerce platform in the world, offering everything from televisions to toilet paper.
And as if that was enough major success, the company has also branched out in multiple ways. It acquired Twitch, the popular livestreaming app that continues to grow rapidly. The company also has its own streaming services, Amazon Prime Video and Amazon Music through its Prime subscription services. There are right around 150 million Amazon Prime members, so those ventures have also been pretty successful.
So why has Amazon continuously failed in the video game world? Amazon Game Studios was initially created in 2012. Besides a few mobile games, the studio has only released one console game so far, The Grand Tour, but even that has also been removed from all storefronts. For a company that has so much money, you would think it would be able to put together some more successful console titles.
It hasn’t been for lack of trying though. So far, Amazon has had three pretty major titles either pushed back or canceled altogether. Let’s take a look at some of Amazon’s gaming failures so far.
The first major failure I want to talk about here is Crucible. Crucible was a team-based shooter with elements from several different genres. It was somewhat similar Overwatch, with various characters that had different abilities. You would team up with two other characters and compete in a head-to-head battle for territory, similar to MOBAs, like League of Legends.
I actually played this game for an hour or so during its open beta period and it was actually a little fun. The graphics were decent and the gameplay had potential, but it didn’t take long to notice that the game was lacking any real depth. The characters weren’t fun and the maps were just kind of bland. The game was set to release sometime in 2020, but ultimately the company decided to completely scrap the project due to the lackluster reception of the beta.
The next blunder from Amazon comes in the form of the highly anticipated MMORPG title New World. New World is a sandbox MMO that takes place in an earth-like world with a touch of fantasy. An MMO is always a tough journey to make, even for the most seasoned video game developers, especially with a brand new IP that has not been established anywhere yet. Amazon is beginning to feel the effects of this.
This game was initially set to come out in May of 2020 but has been delayed until August of 2021. During original alpha testing last year, the game was decently received but seemed to lack mid and end-game content, which caused the massive delay. The game is currently in closed alpha and adding more content regularly, so there may still be potential for this one. But MMOs are tricky. They take constant work and dedication for the long run, so it’ll be interesting to see how it ultimately plays out.
Amazon’s Lord of the Rings MMO
The most recent failure is probably the biggest. Amazon had been on track to release a Lord of the Rings MMO set long before the events of the Lord of the Rings trilogy and The Hobbit. Unfortunately, that title was also recently canceled, apparently because of a recent acquisition of Leyou Technologies, the China-based studio working with Amazon on the game. Leyou Technologies was acquired by tech giants Tencent at the end of last year.
Not much was known about this game, but the world has really needed a Lord of the Rings MMO for a long time now. Sure there’s The Lord of the Rings Online, but that game was released in 2007, and has become a bit outdated. This IP is perfect for a AAA MMO akin to The Elder Scrolls Online, and Amazon could’ve been the perfect company to do it, with its upcome Lord of the Rings series coming to Amazon Prime Video. If I had to guess, it looks like the money wasn’t right for Amazon to continue. And we all know that Jeff Bezos, much like Smaug, isn’t going to let anything interfere with his hoard of gold.
So why can’t Amazon get it right with video games?
Amazon is certainly trying to get its hands in the proverbial video gaming cookie jar, so why is it that they can’t seem to get it right? It sounds like the problem, as always, is money. Video gaming has become a massive, multi-billion dollar industry, and just like everything else, the money has been bringing it down for years.
At the risk of sounding like a grumpy old man, video games used to be made with much more passion. When gaming was much less popular and there was much less money involved, developers had to be really passionate to go through with the development of a video game. And without the internet for updates, games needed more polish and fine-tuning before release, so you could really tell when a studio wanted a game to be loved by how much attention to detail there was.
Now, its more about meeting deadlines and impressing investors, and the consumer comes later. Games are coming out broken and unfinished and maybe they’ll get fixed, or maybe the company will decide its not worth fixing. Amazon has studied these patterns and it no doubt has cost analyses for each of its proposed video games. As we saw with both Crucible and the Lord of the Rings MMO, the company is quick to cut off the development of its games if they’re not looking too promising.
It looks like Amazon is fully committed to video gaming, despite the poor start. With New World still seemingly on track for an August 2021 release, hopefully, the company can redeem itself. Coming from someone who has been looking for a new MMO for years, I’m not holding my breath. I’ve played dozens and I’ve seen what it takes to be able to succeed in that genre and it does not seem easy. Amazon will have to maintain constant support and updates in order to create a successful MMO, and the company hasn’t created a successful AAA title of any kind yet. I’m not holding my breath.
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