New World Equity is urging publishers to claim its 50% stake
Flagging Amazon Games Unit, New World ‘Has to Be Our Breakthrough’
Amazon has no plans to make games in its own name. It is only going to invest money into publishing other companies’ work. Hence, Amazon Games Studio. Amazon is developing it, it is not called Amazon Games Studio.
For many, including the Amazon Game Studios’s former team leader, David Holz, it feels like the company still isn’t as serious about games as it should be. Amazon Game Studios exists in its entirety because of New World Equity.
One of Amazon’s many spin-offs last year, New World Equity, was formerly a next-gen hardware developer, Sun Cloud Technologies, but less than a year after the acquisition it was standing down. A vague statement released by the company explained that it was: “1,500 employees strong, the CTO was world-class, and we had quality products that few other companies in this market had.”
This was dated October 2018, but as with New World Equity’s founder, Holz, Amazon did not make any mention of New World Equity as a source of major investments. He told me they’d invested in the studio “several times”.
In an interview with Kotaku in May, Holz said Amazon owned the interest in his former employer but it had put its remaining investment in New World Equity.
This appeared in a July Facebook post from the Amazon Game Studios president, Rafael Guevera.
Holz says that New World Equity also owns the pre-Games Frontier technology from whom Amazon bought the business, along with Games Frontier’s legacy titles.
Amazon Game Studios had also pushed to expand on the idea of a “two-pronged approach” towards games development: acquiring companies with proven hits as early access trial runs, similar to projects such as Amnesia: The Dark Descent and Dead Cells, or creating prototypes of the games internally to develop with new concepts and less-proven mechanics.
Lest anyone think Amazon did all this for the pleasure of shareholders, the company certainly doesn’t have as much money to burn as Sony and Microsoft. The company has only $34bn in cash and investments to count on, but has cash expenses running at a paltry $26bn.
Why is New World Equity’s passion for games still so important to the company? “Like it said, they were downsizing” Holz says. “And this is a way for them to essentially invest more, because [we] understood it was not sustainable to simply continue publishing people’s games from different studios with our own publishing teams.”
New World Equity considers the 50% ownership of New World Equity to be something of a breakthrough in itself for Amazon Games. “They’ve been investing in online stuff for awhile now,” he says. “And they did not have the understanding that having 50% of a studio was something that, even if they were looking to invest here and there, they were going to be doing that. I’m sure they didn’t know who the hell this was.”
Holz believes Amazon and New World Equity’s stake is a “huge investment” and he believes it may be instrumental in getting big publishers to see the potential in Amazon Games Studio. His point of view on this is heartening, but it’s worth noting that this view comes from someone who left Amazon Game Studios.
Holz was back at Amazon this week to help launch the rest of the company’s hardware that was formerly part of Sun Cloud Technologies.
Holz left Amazon when the rest of the senior team told him to. “I understand that they’re trying to be extremely careful and do things correctly, but for me this was an impossible situation,” he says. “I love the company and I think we’re fantastic, but it made it impossible for me to do my job, let alone make games for them, and for that reason I just left, too.”
The Amazon Game Studios / New World Equity story is not an entirely well-lit one. I ask, however, if Amazon wants a team that believes in the Amazon brand. Holz asks me that same question.
“I think that if we are successful at Amazon, we’re going to affect a lot of companies, including the larger ones like Sony, Microsoft, and Nintendo,” he