Mobile Mavens

Despite $50 million Crytek deal, Mavens split over whether Amazon has a future in mobile games

So hard to create relevance

Despite $50 million Crytek deal, Mavens split over whether Amazon has a future in mobile games

On its own, Amazon's $50 million deal with Crytek over access to its CryEngine could seem like an oddity.

However, given the company's previous moves - purchases of Twitch and Double Helix, the gaming aspects of Fire TV, the setting up of Amazon Game Studios - it's clearly another strategic move from the retailer into mainstream gaming.

But despite spending over a billion dollars to-date, it's not clear that game developers or gamers are treating Amazon as a serious platform.

So we asked our Mavens:

Do you think the Crytek deal will change Amazon's standing in the games industry?

Or is there anything else Amazon should be doing if it wants to be seen as a serious player?


Andreas Vahsen CEO / CCO / Game Economist MachineWorks Northwest

Anyone who underestimates Amazons abilities to create and lead in the game sector will have a rude awakening.

Look at the quality of their in-house produced TV series. Games are next.

David MacQueen Executive Director Strategy Analytics

It's got the pieces in place, now it needs to build the jigsaw. In other words, what it needs is product.

I agree with Andreas, I think Amazon can make a success here. They need quality but as Andreas said, if their TV output is anything to go by, then they are going for quality, not a "me too" entry.

Can Amazon make its Fire TV box and controller a success for gaming?

They've managed to deliver it, in the TV space at any rate.

Like I've said previously, I still think someone can make a microconsole success, and I think Amazon is the best bet.

William D. Volk Chief Futurist Forward Reality

As noted, Amazon's success in producing a quality TV series is an indication that they should be taken seriously.

Amazon Game Studios is producing quality titles for Android and iOS. This indicates to be that they won't have any compunction about applying the Crytek technology to Xbox and PlayStation platforms, and even the PC.

This isn't just a Fire TV play.
William D. Volk

This isn't just a Fire TV play.

They are also in a perfect situation to do a magnificent digital delivery system for the PC game market, as they have done with eBooks and video. They have the advantage of being a trusted entity for e-commerce.

The Amazon Android store is considered second only to Google Play for that platform. Could they have the muscle to convince console makers to allow them to do the same?

Don't know, but it is an interesting possibility. Amazon Prime Video is already supported on Xbox One, so this doesn't seem out of the question.

Kevin Corti Principal Spidershed Media

I don't think this is necessarily about Amazon obtaining tech to enhance its own internal studio capability. I think this is Amazon continuing to adopt a strategy of building up an ecosystem that it can make available to the wider games development community.

This is Amazon continuing to adopt a strategy of building up an ecosystem.
Kevin Corti

A provider that can offer cloud compute and storage, games engines, its own devices, digital merchandising know-how, global distribution, digital discovery, maybe IP and – most importantly – huge consumer reach will eventually pull in a lot of top-tier 3rd party developers.

Amazon has huge resources at its disposal but it is inherently not a creative company and picking up studios here and there won't give them an extensive digital games portfolio.

Giving developers everything they need to get them commit to brining the best games to that ecosystem (rather than seeing Amazon as a secondary priority Android store) would be a much smarter move and that is where my money is.

Oscar Clark Chief Strategy Officer Fundamentally Games

Oscar Clark has been a pioneer in online, mobile, and console social games services since 1998. He is also author of the book, Games As A Service – How Free To Play Design Can Make Better Games.

Speaking as myself (and NOT on behalf of Unity!!), I think this is definitely an interesting move by Amazon and I also have been impressed by their attitudes to bringing quality content to market; but I feel that there are still a lot of barriers to face.

Look at the comparison between Netflix and Amazon Prime. When Amazon bought LoveFilm not only was I a consumer of the service, but so was everyone I know.

Success in game development is never just about the quality of your engine.
Oscar Clark

But then Netflix arrived and everyone I know switched. Even when Amazon started producing their own content it seems to me that this was a response to first moves by Netflix. I don’t actually know who started it first - but it's Netflix with House of Cards which has most notably changed the ecosystem for television production.

Games is similar for me. The choice of Crytek is a great statement of intent but success in game development was never just about the quality of your engine. Its about a combination of having creative spark that’s commercially directed and executed brilliantly. That requires focus.

That's my concern.

Look at how the Amazon App store is hidden on the Amazon service. It's one of the dozen or so departments and almost impossible to notice. I had to be shown how to access it by a friend who works there as an evangelist.

Amazon Appstore - hidden away?

Amazon are an amazing company, but they have made a number of fumbling steps lately.

Don’t get me wrong I’m really glad for the Crytek team that they have been kept going and as a gamer I genuinely look forward to seeing amazing content coming out of this deal; but I won’t be placing any bets just yet.

John Ozimek Co-founder Big Games Machine

John is co-founder of PR and marketing company Big Ideas Machine. Also an all-round nice guy...

This feels a little bit like Microsoft of old to me - a huge company that's dominating one space and looking to move into other segments. Plenty of cash, investments in some really smart tech, people and products, and yet - there seems to be a vital spark missing.

Blockbusters like Call of Duty, GTA and FIFA ... are exactly the games that don't need Amazon's support.
John Ozimek

Yes, this feels very much like a play towards the future of streaming games and digital downloads. But the games that really make the big money in console and PC are the blockbusters like Call of Duty, GTA and FIFA - and these are exactly the games that don't need Amazon's support.

Conversely, as a home for single-game studios or more quirky 'indie' titles, Amazon feels wrong as its brand is anything but underdog-friendly.

If it's a play for games-as-a-service, then the lack of the well-promoted app store that would underpin the gaming ecosystem is the biggest thing missing in this picture.

I'm sure there is a grand plan that brings this all together in a really smart way, but it's the fit with Amazon as a brand that doesn't add up for me - just as many of the moves my companies like Microsoft in the past have seemed right on paper, but culturally never fitted.

Jared Steffes Co-founder Muxy

I would like think that Amazon realized that to get a presence in the mind of gamers they will need to do something drastic and put a huge effort behind first party game development and their own hardware, but I don't see that happening.

It is tough to not compare Amazon's efforts to the way Windows treated their mobile line.
Jared Steffes

It is pretty easy to see how games have been approached by Amazon in the past. Games are not an afterthought. Games are just a part of the existing ecosystem or a gimmick.

I thought of Roku the instant I heard that Fire TV could play games, and the lack of support that Roku got after the launch of Angry Birds. It is extremely costly and difficult to get enough hype to make consumer and developers jump at something nowadays.

There are just too many choices and the current champions have a huge lead.

It is tough to not compare Amazon's efforts to the way Windows treated their mobile line. If there was a major 1st exclusive party game to come out for Windows mobile they might have moved a lot more units, which would cause more developers to jump to the platform.

Look at what happened with the Amazon Fire Phone. The device had two unique games to take advantage of the phone's features (To-Fu Fury and Saber's Edge). If I recall correctly the games originally only worked on the Fire Phone but have been converted to now work on all Android devices.

Saber's Edge - symbolic of Amazon's problems finding an audience?

If I was in charge I'd heavily discount the hardware for Prime members to increase the amount of units in the wild which would entice more developers to build games for Amazon.

Buy your way into the hearts of the market!

Contributing Editor

A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon is Contributing Editor at which means he acts like a slightly confused uncle who's forgotten where he's left his glasses. As well as letters and cameras, he likes imaginary numbers and legumes.