Amazon Suffers Big Loss That Could Dampen Lucrative Business – TheStreet


Rewind your internet life, if you will, back to 2009. Twitter is the coolest social media outlet ever. Facebook  (FB) – Get Meta Platforms Inc. Class A Report looked a lot simpler. And Instagram didn't even exist yet.
Its also likely that someone around you was playing a little game called "FarmVille" via their Facebook account, be it you or your mom. Light years before "Stardew Valley" was even a twinkle in its creator's imagination, this farming simulator was an incredibly addictive way to take a brain break, waste some time at work, or both.
"Farmville" was made by mobile gaming company Zynga  (ZNGA) – Get Zynga Inc. Class A Report, and at its peak it drew close to 35 million users a day. Its performance drew the attention of other big companies, wondering how they might break into the gaming market's golden piggy bank as well. 
Amazon  (AMZN) – Get Amazon.com, Inc. Report was already in the game at that point, pursuing the road "FarmVille" paved with its own colorful Facebook game called "Living Classics," which was released in 2012. But after a year the game was shuttered, as it simply never gained the kind of traction that "FarmVille" did. Amazon had to pause and reconsider its next move.
Amazon Games has made plenty of strides since those days, and between Prime Gaming and Twitch, its captured perhaps the largest piece of the market. But with Vice President of Games Mike Frazzini announcing his departure Monday, the division may be ripe for some changes–and not only that, it could benefit from them, too.
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Frazzini has been with Amazon Games since 2009, all the way back in "FarmVille's" heyday. Back then it was known as Amazon Game Studios, and Frazzini helmed it through several different incarnations. 
After its efforts to innovate in the social media gaming space didn't stick, he chose to steer Amazon towards creating PC games in 2014. But its first, "Breakaway," was abandoned in 2018, and its second, "Crucible," met with a similar fate
Amazon's first hit in the space was "New World," an open-world adventure game that, while pretty, looked pretty generic next to similar titles from established gaming studios. 
And it took its lessons from that title and made "Lost Ark," its next effort, free to play, choosing to focus on gaining revenue through downloadable in-game content over charging a cost to play up front.
This move resulted in more than a million players logging in per day, something that Frazzini deems a success in his status update post about his departure on LinkedIn. And while he's technically right, the average gamer will tell you that there's something about Amazon's gaming efforts that simply leave them cold. So what's that about?
The answer is here is fairly simple: A game that feels like it was made by people who really care. While "New World" and "Lost Ark" both boast plenty of polish, nothing about them feels truly unique. "Lost Ark" has a bigger active player base because its free. But free doesn't necessarily equal good.
Whoever moves into Frazzini's place would be wise to take a page from Netflix's strategy. Instead of making generic big budget products, it's holding up terrific work from indie developers such as "This is a True Story," a beautiful mobile game about an African woman's quest to gather water for her family every day. 
Of course, Amazon's not known for its heart, so that might be asking too much. But if it truly wants to succeed in a way that makes its games more than just something for people to do while they wait for something better to come along, it needs to consider ways to connect with its users that are more genuine. 
Ironically, this is exactly what makes Twitch work so well as a platform. Now, all Amazon has to do is learn from the very community it created space for in the first place.

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