Amazon’s Gaming Clout Grows in Era of Multiplayer Games

Amazon is evolving into an indispensable player in the games industry, with AWS providing a cloud-based digital infrastructure for live streaming. Last year, Epic Games went “all in” for AWS, allowing its massively popular game “Fortnite” to achieve global scale. Amazon Game Tech, the company’s services collection that helps game studios get on their feet, has been a mainstay for companies like Square Enix and Zynga. Amazon also owns the game platform Twitch and has developed its own game engine, Lumberyard.

Variety quotes Amazon Game Tech vice president Brian Taptich who pointed out at this week’s Game Developers Conference that “people take for granted that ‘Fortnite’ works on a massive and global scale.” Amazon Game Tech includes aid in helping studios “launch dedicated servers, access Amazon-specific developer tools, and use a variety of other features to help developers launch and maintain their games.”

Epic Games hosts 125 million players on several platforms, so the cloud’s flexibility helps the company scale up and down quickly, as well as take “advantage of AWS’s like computing power, database storage, and content delivery.”

In addition to owning Twitch, which is “the largest live streaming platform,” Amazon is developing projects via its Amazon Game Studios like “New World.” Variety reports there are “rumors that the company is developing their own Netflix-like streaming platform for games,” but Taptich wouldn’t comment.

At GDC, Amazon’s strengths came into focus with regard to the growing trend of developers adopting the games-as-a-service model. With multiplayer games like “Fallout 76” and “Anthem,” says Variety, the services that “Amazon and their competitors provide will become increasingly important.”

Taptich described the stakes of seamlessly rolling out such games. “You don’t do the type [of] events that ‘Fortnite’ does, like the Marshmello concert where millions of people log on at once, happening without the flexibility that comes with cloud infrastructure,” he said. “The public cloud wasn’t invented to run games. But game developers have embraced it for a ton of reasons, they need to scale their games up and down, they don’t want to spend all that time building out their backend infrastructure.”

As more games draw in millions of players, “the work to create the infrastructure needed to keep these games running has already become a tremendous challenge on its own.” Taptich noted that the idea that “today’s wow turns into tomorrow’s ordinary … [is] perfectly applicable to the games industry.” “Things that worked last year or two years ago are just taken for granted,” he said. “We’re always focused on the next big innovation.”