Amazon announced Thursday that it will release the next version of the popular Tomb Raider video game franchise, a blow to the tech giant’s video game business.
Tomb Raider, an action-adventure title developed by a Californian game studio called Crystal Dynamics, features the character of Lara Croft, a British archaeologist traversing unexplored tombs around the world, solving puzzles and fighting villains.
Japanese company Square Enix released recent versions of the game, such as the famed 2018 Shadow of the Tomb Raider. The franchise has also inspired several feature films.
Crystal Dynamics remains the developer for the upcoming game, which doesn’t have a release date yet and is in early development. But Amazon will be the publisher, which means the company works closely with Crystal Dynamics on “creative support” and is responsible for things like marketing, shipping the title to various retail and online platforms, and advertising.
The new Tomb Raider game will be the first major single-player game released by Amazon Games, which struggled for years to break into the harsh, insular world of game development before finally finding a niche with online multiplayer gaming. Placing a flagship single-player game in its portfolio could go a long way and boost Amazon’s credibility in the industry.
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“It’s a great moment for us”, Christoph Hartmann, vice president of Amazon Games, in an interview. “If someone had told you four years ago that Amazon makes games, you would have laughed. »
Under Mike Frazzini, a longtime Amazon executive who left the company this year, Amazon’s decade-old video game unit flopped. In 2018, the company appointed Mr. Hartmann, an industry veteran who founded 2K Games, which produces popular titles like NBA 2K, to report to Mr. Frazzini.
In 2021, Google, which had also dabbled in video games, shut down the in-house game development arm of its game service, Stadia, before announcing earlier this year that it would end the entire game service. Some thought that Amazon and its video game ambitions could meet a similar fate.
But Amazon finally released a popular multiplayer title, New World, last fall, and followed it up with another well-received game this spring, Lost Ark.
Tomb Raider could build on this success. Although Amazon is late to gaming and following other wealthy companies like Microsoft, Hartmann says he believes time is on his side because he’s only part of the game. . Paste.
“I’m not part of this rat race to see who performs better, I’m here to make great games,” he said.
After wrapping up a trilogy of games detailing the origins of Lara Croft, the new Tomb Raider game will return “to our roots,” Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos said, though he said it was too early to give many details. .
“There’s a logical evolution of what we can do next there, in terms of how we can give him a bigger adventure and even more things for him to do and more worlds and mysteries to explore,” he said.
For Amazon, bringing in gaming veterans has paid off. Amos’ studio had some initial questions about the Amazon partnership, he said, since he’s a newcomer to the game, but they were convinced.
“We didn’t know what the Amazon group was like when we started this conversation,” Amos said. “We knew they had some games there, but we started talking to Christoph and he was like, ‘Oh, by the way, we all have 25, 30 years of history in this business.’ »
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