Amazon has confirmed that it has purchased video game developer Double Helix Games as part of its "ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers." Double Helix, based in Irvine, California, is best known for developing Xbox One launch title Killer Instinct. The purchase was exposed by an invitation to a joint recruiting event by Amazon and Double Helix set to take place in Los Angeles on February 13th. TechCrunch, who uncovered the news, says the deal was likely to be announced on that day.
The purchase of a video game developer is not Amazon's first — it acquired casual game maker Reflexive Entertainment in 2008 — but it is the latest in a set of conspicuous moves the company has made into video gaming recently. Amazon has reportedly been courting video game developers in recent months, and its own development house, Amazon Game Studios, has been recruiting heavily, adding fuel to the rumors that it is planning to release its own TV-based entertainment system. A report by gaming industry site VG247 says that Amazon was originally planning to release a set-top box in 2013, as The Verge reported in October, but that its release has been pushed back to 2014. Amazon's device, VG247 says, is expected to retail for under $300.
The purchase adds fuel to the rumors Amazon is planning to release its own set-top box
Double Helix was formed when developers Shiny Entertainment — the creators of the Earthworm Jim games — and The Collective, who made Mark Ecko's Getting Up: Contents Under Pressure, were merged by parent company Foundation 9 Entertainment. Double Helix's first game was the sixth game in the Silent Hill series, the reasonably well-received Silent Hill: Homecoming. It followed that release with a handful of licensed film tie-in titles, before working on Killer Instinct. It's currently unclear whether the studio, as originally planned, will continue to support Killer Instinct with the release of new characters and content on Microsoft's new console.
Update: Microsoft has confirmed to Polygon that it will continue work on Killer Instinct with a new development partner. "We want all of our loyal fans to know that the Killer Instinct team at Microsoft is not changing and that the franchise will remain with Microsoft Studios," a spokesperson said. "We remain dedicated to delivering a great experience and plan to announce our new development partner soon."