Not content to be a leading online retailer, streaming service, e-book publisher, and grocery store, Amazon has finally unveiled its ambitious videogame publishing plans.
The company announced the news on the eve of 2016’s TwitchCon, a convention surrounding the Amazon-owned live-streaming service.
Three games were announced onstage: Crucible, a multiplayer first-person shooter; New World, a game about constructing and exploring a shared world; and a third-person multiplayer brawler Breakaway.
A Breakaway hit?
After short teasers for the games, the event then focused on Breakaway, a team-based third-person multiplayer brawler which sees brawlers with different abilities facing off against one another. As well as different character-based abilities, the game also heavily integrates support for Twitch.
For example, streamers can directly interact with match-making to build custom matches of viewers. We were told that Amazon hopes in the future this might lead to broadcasters coaching teams of players.
The event also saw a 4v4 match of Breakaway played live on-stage, featuring a number of high-profile eSports players and Twitch streamers.
The demonstration gave us a closer look at the different character classes, which include a typical selection of tanks, sharpshooters, and support characters.
Each match is based around a central Relic, which is a capture-the-flag objective, but which can be can be thrown from player to player.
Characters in the game are also able to build character specific ‘buildables’ which offer both defensive and offensive abilities, and players can spend money between rounds on various character upgrades.
Amazon did not announce which platforms the game would be on at this time but, based on the fact that the night’s exhibition match was played on PC, it’s fair to assume we’ll see it there.
A history with Double Helix
Breakaway is Amazon Game Studios Orange County’s first major title since its acquisition by Amazon in 2014, and was known previously by the name Double Helix for its work on 2013’s Killer Instinct Reboot and Silent Hill: Homecoming.
The acquisition fuelled speculation that Amazon was about to launch its own console, but when the Fire TV was eventually released in late 2014 the Android-based FireOS set-top box was more of a streaming than a gaming device, despite the ability to use a full controller with the device.
The online retailer has build up a strong gaming portfolio. It acquired the gaming live-streaming service Twitch in 2015, and also hired a number of leading developers including Kim Swift (Portal) and Clint Hocking (Far Cry 2), the latter of which left the studio last year.
Amazon has also developed its own games engine Lumberyard, which is an open-source engine that is deeply integrated with Twitch and Amazon Web Services, the company’s cloud services division.
Amazon hasn’t yet announced a release date for the game, however, it has announced that the game will be in closed alpha this weekend and accessible via a code distributed at TwitchCon.