A lot of attention this week was focused on Los Angeles during the annual E3 game time jamboree. But while many of us were watching trailers and reading demo impressions, Amazon pulled a surprise of its own. Yesterday, a number of employees were laid off from Amazon Game Studios, according to a report by Kotaku. Additionally, the company canceled some undisclosed game projects.
According to Kotaku, Amazon gave its affected employees an ultimatum. Yesterday morning, they were told that they have two months to find new positions within the company. Those who couldn’t would “receive severance packages.” A number of games were also canceled. It’s highly likely that those laid off were a part of said game’s development team. All that’s currently unknown at this point is how many employees were let go.
An Amazon spokesperson explained in a statement that the layoffs were a part of “reorganizing.” According to the company, the move was made in order to “prioritize development of New World, Crucible, and new announced projects we’re excited to reveal in the future.” New World and Crucible appear to be among the game projects spared the executioner’s ax.
Business as usual?
The company said the decision wasn’t out of the norm. Continuing, the spokesperson said the “moves are the result of regular business planning cycles where we align resources to match evolving, long-range priorities. We’re working closely with all employees affected by these changes to assist them in finding new roles within Amazon.”
This isn’t the first wave of bad news to hit Amazon’s gaming division. In 2017 it lost both Clint Hocking and Kim Swift — directors of Far Cry 2 and Portal, respectively — and in the following year, canceled its first game Breakaway. Currently, Amazon has published some games. But its major success story is Lumberyard, the game engine powering Crucible. Developer Cloud Imperium Games also adopted Lumberyard for Star Citizen, but it didn’t turn out so well.