Amazon’s first big-budget video game, a free-to-play online shooter called Crucible, launches for download today. The game, which was first announced almost four years ago, will be crucial in understanding whether or not Amazon is able to take its own chunk of the already-crowded gaming market.
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Amazon is hedging a ton of money and other resources on its ability to break into the online gaming market, which is already dominated by big names like Overwatch and Apex Legends. The timing of the game’s release is pretty ideal; with the COVID-19 pandemic keeping us all housebound for the near future, many are antsy for something new to do. But it could easily fade into obscurity if players aren’t excited about its gameplay.
Reworking well-worn formulas — Crucible follows a familiar tune: you choose one of ten hero types and shoot your way to a team victory. While working against the other team, you’re also searching the planet for “essence,” which helps you upgrade your player throughout the match. At launch, there are three different match types, each with a different number of players and gameplay twists.
Twitch will help somewhat — Amazon knows online gaming is super in right now because it owns Twitch, the increasingly popular game-streaming site. Though the Crucible team hasn’t put out much in terms of hardcore marketing — there’s no big virtual launch party planned or anything of that nature — the game is made with online streaming in mind. As Bloomberg notes, it’s fast-paced and exciting to watch, even if you’ve never played before. That will help it gain attention from the streaming crowd, with or without a big marketing push.
So far so mediocre — Early reviews of the game have been all over the place.
Mike Frazzini, VP of Amazon Games, shared a positive spin on its reception: “One of the things that we hear most often from people who try Crucible is that it feels unique,” he says. “There are elements and gameplay mechanics that feel familiar, but they’re combined in a way that’s different from anything else they’ve played.”
Meanwhile, digital entertainment experts like David Cole, the founder of DFC Intelligence, says, “The buzz on these games has not been that great. They are ambitious, but the market changes fast and both products already look passe now.”
Crucible’s success will ultimately be determined by how much players enjoy the game. Amazon is banking on the familiar elements of the game to feel just familiar enough, but that could easily turn into boredom. This, alongside next month’s release of Amazon’s paid game New World, will give us a better idea of whether or not Amazon has any future in the gaming industry.