What Can We Learn from Amazon's Failure?
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It's insane how many people are putting their hands in the video game industry's basket. There are tons of developers in the AAA scene and even more indie developers. Include those studios that are somewhere in between, home-brewers, and single person developers, and the number seems infinite. With so many hats in the ring, it makes perfect sense that not everyone is going to be successful. You'd think most of these failures come to the newbies, but that isn't always the case. Sometimes disaster can even strike the companies that seem too big to fail.

A noticeable example of this is Amazon and its game studio, Amazon Game Studios. They were working on a title called Breakaway. It was styled as a competitor to Overwatch and was called a “competitive fantasy sport brawler.” The corporation eventually decided to cancel the title, because it wasn't lining up with the team's expectations. As part of Amazon Game Studios' official announcement of the cancellation they said, “In spite of our efforts, we didn't achieve the breakthrough that made the game what we all hoped it could be.” Amazon is most famous for being a super successful online retailer, but they have also broken into the film and television industry, creating their own exclusive productions for their streaming service. It only makes sense that they would give video games a try somewhere down the line.

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This is an unfortunate beginning for them. It never bodes well for anyone when one of their first projects ends in failure. It makes potential customers lose a little bit of faith, especially when they were looking forward to the canceled project. It certainly doesn't mean that Amazon Game Studios won't be able to make a comeback. It's incredibly possible that canceling Breakaway was the best decision they could have made. All of the human resources Amazon was devoting to a game that might have failed are now being used on projects that could do well. Rather than holding on to a sinking ship, it sometimes makes the most sense to scuttle it and move on to a better one.

We'll never know for sure if that would have been the case with Breakaway. The fact still remains that even a large corporation like Amazon was not able to finish a project. We assume that massive companies with all kinds of money and investors behind them simply cannot fail. Or at the least we expect that they'll never have to leave something unfinished. While Amazon Game Studios canceled Breakaway for seemingly artistic reasons, many other companies cancel games for financial ones. It just goes to show that no matter the budget, trouble can always arise. Sure, Amazon should never have to deal with the horrors of finding funds amongst a slowly decreasing investor base. But we now know for a fact that they could suffer from a project that gradually gets away from them and becomes something they couldn't be proud of.

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It's a cautionary tale for any and all developers, but especially AAA ones. One should never assume that they can succeed just because they have the money and the brand to back things up. Amazon's Breakaway probably would have had a keen, albeit probably small, audience behind it for the name and the quality alone, even if the gameplay didn't live up to the original expectations. Most other AAA developers would experience the same luck. But in the end it could still be a failed title. This happens every day with smaller game devs, but it's important to remember that it could happen to anyone.

April Marie
April Marie
@Legiodith

Contributing Writer
Date: 04/11/2018

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