Amazon Games studio head Mike Frazzini, who played a big role in starting the company, has left stepped down to “focus on his family.”
“Mike was there at the beginning of Amazon Games, and his leadership and perseverance helped build the games business from the ground up,” Amazon spokesman Ryan Jones said in a statement. “Our recent successes with New World and Lost Ark are the result of the long-term, customer-focused vision for games he helped establish. We are very grateful for all his contributions, and wish Mike the very best.”
While New World and Lost Ark have been received positively by many, Amazon Games has not had the smoothest ride over the years.
2019’s The Grand Tour Game was the first Amazon Game Studios console release, but it was pulled from storefronts within a year. Crucible was the next game to be officially released from the studio, but it was quickly returned to closed beta after launch and would be shut down for good in November 2020.
Furthermore, two other projects – known as Intensity and Nova – never saw the light of day after teams tried and failed to create games inspired by Fortnite and League of Legends, respectively.
This has all happened despite Amazon spending nearly $500 million a year to operate the Amazon Games division.
Frazzini began his career in the books section of Amazon.com in 2004 where he “endeared himself to Jeff Bezos as a manager there.” When he was brought on to help start Amazon Game Studios, he had never made a game before.
A previous report also said that Frazzini would ignore the advice given by the experienced developers he brought on and, despite frequently telling the staff that every Amazon game should be a “billion-dollar franchise,” he would then understaff projects.
A former Amazon Game Studios manager spoke to Bloomberg and said that his lack of prior experience in gaming was a detriment to the company. Amazon has been known to believe that those who succeed in one category should have no problem doing the same in another. Unfortunately, “staffers in the unit felt that he underestimated the complexities of the medium.”
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