Amazon Games Executive Steps Down as The Company Struggle

Muhammad Razief Razqie . January 12, 2023

Picture: Gamedaim

Techspace - Another veteran executive is leaving Amazon's game development division, which has struggled to produce big hits since it launched a decade ago. After six years, the head of Amazon Games San Diego, John Smedley is leaving the company. Smedley has been behind several projects during his time at Amazon Games, none of which have been released.

Smedley started a development company in the early 90s, before moving on to Sony. In 1996, John Smedley was put in charge of Sony Interactive Studios America's development of an online role-playing video game. The studio would later rebrand its name to 989 Studios, and the game would eventually become the MMORPG EverQuest, published by Sony Online Entertainment. Smedley remained with Sony Online Entertainment until 2015, during which time the studio produced dozens of games, including Star Wars Galaxies, The Matrix Online, and DC Universe Online which is still being updated. The studio had once more changed its name due to being sold to an investment group, shortly after Smedley left.

Now, after six years at Amazon Games San Diego, Smedley is moving on once again. According to Bloomberg, Smedley told staff members in an email that he wishes to try his hands at something new. The true reason for leaving the studio will undoubtedly remain a mystery; however, it is worth noting that during his time as head of the branch, none of the games worked on in Amazon Games San Diego have been released. His departure also comes after several layoffs at Amazon Games, and the departure of studio head Mike Frazzini.

Bloomberg also reported that Andy Sites will step in as studio head while John Smedley will help with the transition during this period. Before joining Amazon's video game division back in 2017, John Smedley spent most of his career as the studio head for Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment), during which he worked on games like Star Wars Galaxies and Everquest. However, his tenure at Amazon was not as successful as it was at Sony, considering the studio has struggled to release big titles after over half a decade.

Andy Sites, who will replace John in San Diego, first joined Amazon Game Studios in 2021. The studio has currently several titles in development, including an upcoming Tomb Raider game and Blue Protocol, the latter of which is due to release sometime this year.

Struggle in The Amazon

Amazon is arguably one of the largest companies in the world, and one that seemingly has a hold in everything from film and TV production to online retail, and more. However, the one area that the mega company seems to have trouble penetrating is the games industry, with a new report detailing some of the behind-the-scenes issues that have plagued its games division, Amazon Game Studios.

According to Bloomberg's 2021 report, among the most glaring issues that have faced the company's games division has been its manager Mike Frazzini, a veteran at Amazon but one with no prior game development experience. That lack of experience, in turn, has tended to frustrate developers when Frazzini would ignore or go against their advice and decisions, leading many to leave the studio entirely.

The report also detailed that Amazon's in-development projects often suffered in focus and scale, with many teams trying to create projects that would rival established franchises and IPs like Overwatch, League of Legends, and Fortnite. In turn, developers at Amazon Game Studios also struggled with the company's internal development tools called Lumberyard, which were often slow and difficult to work around.

With Andy Sites now helming the Amazon Games Studios ship, it still remains unclear whether the company can bounce back after the rough years it has endured.

teknologi id bookmark icon

Leave a comment