A few years ago, Amazon launched Lumberyard, a cross-platform 3D game engine designed to leverage the storage and computation offerings of the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Lumberyard featured a number of tools for developers, including a real-time gameplay editor and drag-and-drop visual scripting.
Since then, Amazon has added a variety of features to Lumberyard; in mid-2018, for example, it integrated support for Visual Studio 2017. Despite those additions, however, the platform has failed to make much market-share headway against developer stalwarts such as the Unreal Engine.
Lumberyard isn’t the extent of Amazon’s gaming ambitions. The company owns Twitch, which allows players to stream their gaming footage. It has an in-house studio, Amazon Games. And the Fire TV, Amazon’s set-top box, can play games.
But Amazon’s latest platform might finally be the thing that makes the e-commerce giant a major player (so to speak) in the gaming world. According to The Information, Amazon is working on a service that will allow gamers to stream games over the Internet. That will not only leverage Amazon’s extensive work in the cloud, but also spare the company from having to develop an expensive proprietary console (like Microsoft’s Xbox or Sony’s PlayStation). The publication’s unnamed sources peg the service’s release date as sometime in 2020.
Amazon isn’t the only company interested in this kind of streaming; in early 2018, The Informationreported that Google was hard at work on a similar service accessible via Chromecast device or specialized (cheap) console. Sony also has PlayStation Now, which lets players stream PlayStation games to PCs and PlayStation 4 consoles for a set price per month.
In order for such a service to succeed, Amazon will need to enlist developers of all kinds—not just the largest gaming studios, but also the indie devs who have transformed the Steam, Apple App Store, and Google Play storefronts into juggernauts. And for that to happen, Amazon will need to offer all of these developers a good deal with regard to revenue splits—otherwise, the latter can just take their products to the competing platforms.
For developers, the prospect of Amazon jumping into this particular battlefield is an enticing one. After all, the more venues for a product, the better its chances for success. But will Amazon open the platform to all, or just a select handful of AAA games?