Amazon’s incoming CEO, Andy Jassy, says he’s committed to Amazon’s video game development efforts, in response to a damning report from Bloomberg last week about the problems facing the team. “Some businesses take off in the first year, and others take many years,” Jassy wrote in a staff email seen by Bloomberg, “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in AGS [Amazon Game Studios], I believe we will if we hang in there.”
“Being successful right away is obviously less stressful, but when it takes longer, it’s often sweeter,” Jassy continued. “I believe this team will get there if we stay focused on what matters most.”
The message comes at a critical time for Amazon Game Studios, the e-commerce giant’s video game development arm. The decision to set up the division reportedly came directly from outgoing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who recently announced he is stepping down from the position later this year to be replaced by current Amazon Web Services head Andy Jassy. With the company reportedly spending almost $500 million a year on its as-yet unsuccessful video game division, it’s important that it has the support of the incoming CEO.
Bloomberg’s previous report alleged that Amazon Game Studios has faced a host of problems including a studio head who lacks experience in video games, a “painfully slow” in-house game engine, and a “bro culture” that doesn’t give women the same opportunities as men. In response to the report, studio head Mike Frazzini has reportedly emailed the team, saying that there’s “zero tolerance” for “anything less than a fully equitable and inclusive environment.” In his email this week, Jassy expressed support for Frazzini.
Despite Jassy’s support, Amazon Game Studios is still facing challenges. Last year it released, and then pulled and cancelled, Crucible, a hero shooter that drew inspiration from Overwatch. Another of its tentpole games, New World, was also delayed, while a video game adaptation of The Grand Tour was released to such poor reviews in 2019 that it was later removed from storefronts. AGS might have the support of Amazon’s next CEO, but it’s got a long way to go if it wants to earn the support of players.