Amazon Game Studios have finally revealed their hand and the trio of games they revealed last week didn’t go unnoticed. While I think it’s fair to say the fanfare surrounding the reveal wasn’t rapturous (people don’t yet associate Amazon gaming with, well, gaming) there was certainly a smattering of interest surrounding all three titles, if for nothing more than the emphasis on Twitch integration.
For anyone unaware, Amazon purchased Twitch for an estimated £585 million ($970) back in August 2014. As a result of the acquisition, Amazon Game Studios was brought to life with the sole purpose to not only produce great games, but to supplement and support Twitch like never before. Unsurprisingly and based on the continued popularity of streaming and competitive games, all three titles that Amazon Game Studios have revealed demonstrate a competitive basis, but also the ability to foster a player/viewer relationship like never before. These titles have been built from the ground up with Twitch integration in mind, so much so that they have all the potential to shape the industry going forwards.
While most game studios support players streaming their titles, Twitch integration isn’t common. In fact, it’s downright rare for any title to support streaming to the extent that Amazon Gaming Studios are. Twitch Metastream, Broadcaster Spotlight & Broadcaster Match Builder look like a robust set of tools and statistical accessibility we’ve never been exposed to before. While it sounds great for the likes of Breakaway or Crucible (the former being a MOBA-esque sports brawler and the latter a little like the Hunger Games) what interests me the most is how the Twitch blueprint will impact on the development of New World.
The official description of New World states, “Carve your own destiny in New World, a massively multiplayer, open-ended sandbox game set in a living, cursed land. Choose how you play, what you do, and whom you work with or against in an evolving world that transforms with the seasons, weather, and time of day. Band together to reclaim monster-haunted wilds and build thriving civilizations, or strike out on your own, surviving in the face of supernatural terrors and murderous player bandits. Focused on emergent gameplay and rich social features – including deep Twitch integration with broadcaster-led events, achievements, and rewards – your only limit in the New World is your ambition.”
There’s relatively little concrete information in the marketing blurb as to what Twitch integration will really offer, but the prospect of an outside source affecting the game-world, as a puppet master, could certainly be interesting. Considering New World is also under the stewardship of Dave Moldonado (Senior Game Designer at Blizzard, of World of Warcraft fame) and Scot Lane (Executive Producer of End of Nations at Trion Worlds) the game is arguably in a safe pair of hands: these two developers alone have huge amounts of pedigree.
Interestingly, I’ve come to understand that many of the ex-ArenaNet staffers aren’t in fact working on New World and are instead beavering away on Crucible. That snippet of news took me by surprise especially when Guild Wars 2, during its infancy and marketing blitz, sounded as though it wanted to pursue a similar model. I would have thought the allure of a brand new studio creating a sandbox MMO would have been far too inviting for Colin and co. to pass up.
Irrespective of who is or isn’t on board with New World, it’s undoubtedly an exciting prospect. Not just because of the fact it’s a sandbox MMO (at long last!) but because it’s by a studio with talent, with an unquestionably large budget, that seems to be bucking an industry trend. Not only are they foregoing the theme park approach, but they’re attempting to return back to an era where freedom - to simply play the game as you choose - is the norm.
In many ways, watching the promo for New World felt cliche but at the same time, I’ve hope that the studio might just pull it off. We don’t yet know how Twitch will work, what their interpretation of sandbox really means (I can’t imagine a “commercial product” from allowing players to kill each other freely) or what an evolving world involves (we’ve been sold that before on Guild Wars 2 and look how that turned out). Despite my brief reservations, the sound bites we’ve heard of New World show potential.
It’s likely a long time until the game is anywhere near to release or even to be tested by the masses. It’s also far too early to tell it has the potential to attract players back to the genre and away from their favorite titles. If there’s one thing that I’m grateful to Amazon Gaming Studios for, it’s simply reigniting my excitement for the future. After the demise of EverQuest Next, we surely need it.
Are you already looking forward to New World? How do you think it’ll go about integrating Twitch? Is the Twitch integration irrelevant to you? In what way do you think it’ll be “sandbox”? Let me know!