Amazon Games studio head Mike Frazzini is stepping down from his role to focus on family, according to a report from Bloomberg. Frazzini has helped lead Amazon’s game division since 2009 and played a role in building the company’s game studio.
“Mike was there at the beginning of Amazon Games, and his leadership and perseverance helped build the games business from the ground up,” Amazon spokesperson Ryan Jones said in a statement to Bloomberg. “Our recent successes with New World and Lost Ark are the result of the long-term, customer-focused vision for games he helped establish. We are very grateful for all his contributions, and wish Mike the very best.”
Amazon didn’t immediately reply to The Verge’s request for comment.
Amazon Games has faced a number of issues under Frazzini’s leadership
Last year, Bloomberg released a report detailing a number of issues within Amazon Games, including allegations that Frazzini, who began his career at Amazon running the books section of the marketplace, lacked experience with games and often rejected the advice of the developers he hired. The report also claims Frazzini would understaff projects and have developers “chase” the latest trends — projects that would ultimately become failures, like the Fortnite-inspired Intensity and League of Legends-like Nova that never made it out of development.
These weren’t the only games Amazon faced challenges with, however. In 2018, Amazon Games canceled its fantasy sports game Breakaway, and in 2020, it pulled The Grand Tour, a racing title based on a show of the same name, due to poor reception. Crucible, a free-to-play Overwatch-style shooter was one of Amazon Games’ biggest letdowns — the studio canceled the game after releasing it and then putting it back into a closed beta. Last year, Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote an email to staff members, saying: “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet… I believe we will if we hang in there.”
Amazon Games has seen success with New World, an MMORPG released last fall, but even this game wasn’t spared from a rough release; its launch date was pushed back multiple times before it finally went live in September 2021. Its free-to-play Lost Ark, which was initially available only in South Korea, has also been well-received. Lost Ark became the second most played game on Steam following its English localization, a sudden spike in players causing server issues and long queues.