Amazon Game Studios executive steps down as unit struggles with hits – The Seattle Times


Another veteran executive is leaving Amazon’s video game division, which has struggled to produce big hits since it launched a decade ago.
John Smedley, who has three decades of experience in the industry and ran the Amazon Game Studios office in San Diego for six years, told staff Wednesday that he’s stepping aside. Smedley joined Amazon in 2017 and has worked on various projects, none of which have been released.
“After a lot of thought, I’ve decided it’s time for me to try my hand at something new,” Smedley said in an email to staff that was reviewed by Bloomberg.
Andy Sites will step in as studio head while Smedley wraps up and helps with a transition, according to the letter.
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“John is a game industry legend, and we’re grateful for his contributions to Amazon Games over the past six years,” an Amazon spokesperson said. His team “remains focused on bringing their unannounced project to life. John is committed to staying on until the team is fully transitioned before he moves on to pursue something new.”
Amazon first launched Amazon Game Studios in 2013 and has had spotty success so far, canceling several games and releasing one, Crucible, that was shut down after a month. Current and former employees pinned the blame for Amazon’s video game woes on former boss Mike Frazzini, who resigned last year. His successor, Christoph Hartmann, has made big bets, such as a deal to publish the next game in the popular Tomb Raider franchise.
Amazon has been cutting costs in the midst of the economic downturn, saying this month that it plans to cut 18,000 jobs, largely in retail and human resources.
Smedley spent most of his career at Sony Online Entertainment, where he worked on popular games such as Everquest and Star Wars Galaxies.

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