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Report: Mismanagement plagues Amazon's struggling push into video games

Report: Mismanagement plagues Amazon's struggling push into video games

January 29, 2021 | By Alissa McAloon




It's not news that Amazon has struggled to make its big break in the video game industry, but a recent piece from Bloomberg takes a closer look at the years-long endeavor and offers insight from past and current Amazon Studios developers on what missteps have led to its continued struggles.

Throughout the story one factor seems to consistently lead to struggle in nearly all elements of its game development expansion: a mismatch between Amazon's own steadfast management style and what works best for game developers.

The story traces how leadership at Amazon frequently pulls the rug out from its development teams in situation that range from misprioritized project goals based on trending games from other competitors, sexist and racist trends in the workplace, and unfamiliarity with the game development process to list a few.

Many of the eye-catching tales from Bloomberg's conversation with over 30 Amazon Studios devs mention management issues with longtime Amazon exec and studio VP Mike Frazzini, ranging from moments where Frazzini's unfamiliarity with video game production hindered projects and an unwillingness to listen to feedback from the developers hired on as Amazon's expert talent.

In one such example from Amazon Studio developers, leadership pushed back against criticism that its game New World, or Roanoke as it was code-named in development, could be seen as racist due to its use of colonialism and enemies that borrowed Native American imagery. It took Amazon bringing on a tribal consultant for those cries of racism to be acknowledged.

Bloomberg points out that issues with workplace sexism is one of the few ways Amazon Studios is similar to other major players in the game industry.

Women at the studio reported times where they were outright ignored during meetings in favor of commentary from men at the company, or times where they faced professional retaliation for speaking up about issues. 

The full story over on Bloomberg captures more stories for Amazon Studios developers and touches on the launch (and un-launch) of Amazon's Crucible as well as the many issues that spun out from leadership's decree that devs create and exclusively use Lumberyard, Amazon's own game engine, for the creation of its games. 



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