In a report by Bloomberg, reports of mismanagement and more at Amazon Game Studios have been revealed.
The report on Bloomberg via reporters Jason Schreier and Priya Anand sheds light on the behind the scenes of the game developer, including reports of mismanagement, a "bro-culture" that has been allowed to foster there, as well as the direction to chase trendy game concepts rather than design their own, leading to multiple projects being canceled. This includes a League of Legends inspired game called Project Nova, which was canceled in 2017 as well as a Fortnite inspired project named Intensity that was thrown out in 2019. This also includes last year's Crucible, which was released, then un-released, then outright shut down later on in the year.
The report is compiled based on over 30 current and former Amazon employees, detailing their experiences working for AGS.
According to Bloomberg, Amazon is spending nearly $500 milion a year on the games division, which doesn't include Twitch. The team at Amazon has reportedly made splashy hires thoughout the last few years, including veteran game designers such as Portal's Kim Swift and MMO veteran John Smedley. According to the report, of the big-name designers hired, only Smedley remains with the company.
The leader of Amazon's games division, Mike Frazzini, seems to be central to all of this, including reports that the division head frustrates game developers working under him for simply not having a basic understanding of differences between gameplay and concept footage.
The technology being used at Amazon to power their games is also something of a quagmire according to the report. Instead of using industry standard tools like Unreal Engine or Unity, the development house was tasked with building its own, dubbed Lumberyard, licensing technology from Crytek, the makers of Cryengine.
As such, Lumberyard is described as "painfully slow" with developers playing other games or watching movies just while waiting for the engine to process something for the games they were working on, with one former employee reportedly saying "Lumberyard is killing this company."
Reports of bro-culture that has permeated the studio according to Bloomberg's reporting, with one former employee stating she was "completely ignored" in meetings. Another one of the site's sources states that after a disagreement with a male member of senior leadership, he "created new management positions above her and filled them with men."
New World was also mentioned, with reports that Frazzini rejected charges the upcoming survival MMO was racist after an early version would ask players to "colonize a mythical land and murder inhabitants who bear a striking resemblance to Native Americans." According to the report, Amazon brought in a tribal consultant who found that it was indeed offensive. New World was originally slated to release last year, but is now scheduled for a 2021 release.
You can read the full report on Bloomberg here.