Amazon details "nuanced" approach to game development

Fire TV games will fall between blockbuster and casual markets

Amazon's gaming strategy for Fire TV will fall between the industry's extremes - neither mega-budget blockbusters nor run-of-the-mill casual titles.

In an interview with Polygon, Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games, explained the "nuanced approach" to internal development that will support game content for its Fire TV set-top box.

"There are studios that have hundreds of people working multiple years on a game - that's not what where we're going. That's one end of the spectrum," he said. "On the other end of the spectrum you have casual games that are really fun to play, like match-3 and puzzles. What we're thinking about is building games that fall more in the middle."

In real terms that means teams of anywhere between 5 and 30 people on production cycles of 12 to 18 months for each game. Frazzini pointed to Fireproof's The Room and Telltale's The Walking Dead as examples of the standard those teams will be trying to reach.

Frazzini also detailed the high degree of collaboration between those creating the content and those building and iterating on Amazon's network of devices and back-end services. For example, the Fire TV box has 2GB of RAM specifically because of feedback it received from game developers, and that philosophy will also extend to the evolution of its cloud infrastructure

On the face of it, Amazon's direction for game content on the Fire TV is encouraging, and it has backed its claims with a small but very significant group of new hires: Portal's Kim Swift, Far Cry 2's Clint Hocking and System Shock 2's Ian Vogel.

Nevertheless, there is a belief in certain corners of the games industry that what Amazon claims about its dedication to gaming and what it ultimately does could be two very different things.

Speaking to GamesIndustry International on the subject last week, a number of leading analysts suggested that Fire TV will be a "non-event" in terms of its impact on the gaming space, while Ouya's Julie Uhrman stated that the platform's broad focus would ultimately weaken its offering as a game platform.

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Latest comments (2)

Adam Campbell Producer, Hopster3 years ago
This is quite interesting, because I've been thinking about the sheer number of "little blockbusters" Amazon are capable of churning out exclusively for their system (or more broadly, their App Store).
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Steve Wetz Reviewer/Assistant Editor, Gamer's Glance3 years ago
Let's keep in mind this is also the space occupied by the Ouya, whatever the MadCatz console is, and a number of Kickstarted platforms yet to come (probably could squeeze nVidia Shield in there as well). So we'll see, since none of those brands have been particularly successful.

Still, Ms. Uhrman has a point. A broad focus initially for the XBox One (pre-release) led to an increased focus on games via customer backlash. But I think the name recogition of Amazon will assuage that somewhat. After all, when people think XBox, they think of the gaming capability, not necessarily how it interfaces with your cable service. By the same token, Amazon is known for it's large and varied marketplace. It may be that the brand drives an expectation of broad focus. Can't wait to see how this plays out.
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