Sep

8

Is Amazon Shaping to Be the Next Gaming Giant?

Mark Stephens

Zynga, King, Wooga… all giants that have made a big splash in the world of gaming in recent years, changing the landscape and challenging the dominance of the traditional console and PC gaming giants. With Amazon’s recent ventures, could one of the Internet’s most famous and longest-lasting names in retail be about to make a play to become the next gaming giant?

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Amazon’s Recent Plays in the Gaming Market

Our previous post, Gaming as a Spectator Sport, describes how Amazon has just purchased the game streaming company Twitch for almost $1 billion, and how it may represent a ‘watershed moment when game streaming is brought into the general consciousness of gamers around the world’.

Amazon Game Studios has been around a couple of years now. It launched its social game development arm in 2012, but has been relatively quiet, with its game Living Classics being put out to pasture last year.

According to its website the studio is dedicated to ‘making creative, fun games that are built to engage and delight a broad range of audiences — from core gamers to kids — and launch on a variety of devices and platforms.’

Pretty much what they all say I suppose…

But other moves by Amazon this year suggest that it is ready to step up its charge into the gaming market.

Back in February the company acquired the talent and IP of Double Helix Games, a gaming studio established in 2007 and based in California, with 75 employees. It is known for its popular and innovative PC and console games like Killer Instinct, G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and Front Mission Evolved.

At the time of the acquisition Amazon released the following statement:

‘Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.’

This sparked a lot of speculation earlier this year that Amazon was about to launch its own gaming console – especially given the nature of most Double Helix games: large scale, action-based games that lend themselves well to the console gaming experience.

One popular blog reported that the company is planning a ‘dedicated games and entertainment device this year priced below $300… [to] compete directly with Sony, Microsoft and Nintendo.’ This would be powered by Android, so the speculation went. It would appear to make sense too, given Amazon’s history of producing its own versions of tablets, readers, TV boxes, and so on.

Social and Mobile Gaming

Away from all this talk of consoles, Amazon recently launched a new mobile gaming app called Sev Zero: Air Support, which is its first ever app to appear on Apple’s App Store.

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To be clear, it is not a standalone game, but a mobile gaming ‘companion’ that was previously only available on the Kindle Fire HDX tablet and other Android-based devices (it was already listed on Google Play too). The game was first launched in April of this year exclusively for Amazon’s Fire TV gaming platform, and was termed ‘something of a Halo knockoff’ by GeekWire.

Initially appearing only on the Amazon Appstore, the game’s appearance on the Apple App Store expands Amazon’s reach, with its games potentially appealing to users beyond those with Kindle tablets and Android smartphones. It also creates a precedent for its future games to be listed on the App Store.

Other games available in the Amazon Appstore at present include To-Fu Fury, Air Patriots, and Saber’s Edge, in addition to Sev Zero.

While these titles are few and far between, they would appear to be just the beginning – a first few forays into the gaming market. With its recent acquisitions detailed above, plus other recent hires with enormous gaming experience between them, Amazon now has a large pool of gaming talent under its wings that it is bound to put to good use.