Friday, May 14, 2021

Amazon Game Studios report details struggles, ‘brother culture’, mismanagement and canceled projects

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A new detailed report from Bloomberg detailed some of the dysfunctions and struggles at Amazon Game Studios, including canceled projects, an inconvenient game engine, mismanagement, and a “brotherhood culture” that would not give women the same opportunities as men. The report begins by explaining how Mike Frazzini was tricked into starting Amazon Game Studios eight years ago without ever making a game. Since then, Frazzini and Amazon Game Studios have only released two games and have seen several canceled projects that attempted to recreate the financial magic of games like Fortnite and League of Legends.

The Grand Tour game was the first version of the Amazon Game Studios console, and within a year, it was removed from the windows. Crucible was the next game to come out of the studio, and not just returned to closed beta after its official launch, it was closed in November 2020.

Two other projects, known as Intensity and Nova, never saw the light of day after teams tried and failed to make games inspired by Fortnite and League of Legends, respectively.All of those canceled and unsuccessful projects at Amazon Game Studios did so despite Amazon spending nearly $ 500 million a year running the games division. It is also important to note that the amount does not include Twitch or Amazon Luna – the latter is under a different management.

Frazzini is a “Lifetime Amazon” who began his career in the books section of Amazon.com where he “fell in love with Jeff Bezos as a manager there.” He started his role as head of the games division bringing in some of the best game development talent in the world, including Kim Swift of Portal, Clint Hawking of Far Cry 2, Richard Hilleman of Madden and John Smedley of Everquest. . Today only Smedley remains.

According to many current and former employees of Frazzini’s game studios, he has continuously ignored much of the advice given by these seasoned developers, and although he frequently tells staff that every Amazon game should be a “franchise of one.” billion dollars ”, it would then lack personnel for the projects. .

Plus, instead of using cutting-edge game engines like Unreal Engine or Unity, the studio opted for a technology license from Crytek to create a house engine known as Lumberyard.While Lumberyard was supposed to integrate with Amazon Web Services and could have been a cheaper alternative to paying for other engines, he ended up being known as a “boogeyman around the office”. Many said it was “extremely slow” and the developers were playing Halo or watching Amazon Prime Video while waiting for Lumberyard to process the art or compile the code. A former employee even went so far as to say, “Lumberyard is killing this company”.

Another big issue with working at Amazon Game Studios is said to have to do with the “brother culture” that was cultivated there, in which women often did not have the same opportunities as men. Beyond that, “four female game developers said their worst experiences with sexism in the industry were at Amazon.”

There have been stories of these men being ignored and belittled by male executives, in some cases kicked out of the company. A source said that not only did a man in the management team impede her career growth after disagreeing with him, but he then created new leadership positions above her and hired men to fill these positions.

Amazon’s gambling problems also extend to how they entice their employees. While most studios pay bonuses based on a game’s critical and business response, Amazon’s stock plan only rewards employees for the duration of their presence with the company. This has led some employees to choose to “prioritize job preservation over anything else, say three former employees.”

New World Screenshots: November 2020

Amazon Game Studio’s next project is the MMO New world. Originally slated for release in 2020, it was postponed to spring 2021 to improve the quality of the game. The Bloomberg report explains that the project was originally intended to be a survival game where players would take on the role of settlers in a fictional version of America in the 1600s.

The problem, however, was that the enemies players would initially face “looked a lot like native people.” When the developers pointed out to Frazzini’s deputy Patrick Gilmore that the setting and the villains could be considered racist, he “expressed disbelief.”

Amazon eventually hired a tribal consultant who found the portrait to be offensive, and the Native American images have since been removed.

Our latest look at New World’s high-level PvE zone show a game that might not be for everyone, but is promising and has a big improvement, both in PvE content and in general polish, over the previous version.

Any advice to give us? Want to discuss a possible story? Please send an email to newstips@ign.com.

Adam Bankhurst is a news editor for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @AdamBankhurst and on Tic.



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