Two years ago, Amazon bought Twitch for $1 billion. Now we're beginning to see the fruits of that purchase.
Amazon has created a new gaming engine it calls Lumberyard, which the company has coupled with its industry-leading cloud computing platform using Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Twitch, the world's most popular live streaming platform on gaming.
The huge takeaway here, however, is that it's all free. That's right, Amazon has packed quite the bundle in its charge toward taking over the online gaming market. By doing so, however, it also finds itself in competition with newcomer Stingray from Autodesk and the well-established Unity as well as Epic Games' Unreal Engine, which will be powering the remake of the classic Final Fantasy VII.
Then again, Amazon isn't just some indie gaming company coming out with a half-baked gaming engine with a free sticker on it. No, this is Amazon, probably the only company with enough gusto to strip away Android from Google by creating its forked version of the OS and attempting to get other OEMs to make Amazon-centric services for it.
By combining all of its strengths and focusing them on gaming, Amazon offers an attractive proposition: build high-quality games on free software using Lumberyard, bring it online using AWS and make it virally social on Twitch.
By using Lumberyard, Amazon proposes that the developers can better focus on making great games straight from the get-go without getting slowed down in the intricacies of building a custom engine or dealing with complicated server issues. They can also save tons of money during the development cycle.
As they say, however, when it sounds too good to be true it probably is. The catch here in Amazon's offer is that it will make developers completely reliant on the company's services.
Yes, developers will get to use a free gaming engine to make top-tier games but they'll have to use Amazon Web Services to support multiplayer options and other online-centric services. In addition, if a developer wants to give players the option to live-stream their game, they'll have Twitch as their only option. If a game lives on the company's servers or live-streaming platform and it achieves massive success, Amazon will have a lion's share of control over it.
Business tactics aside, Lumberyard does prove to be a capable gaming engine that can be used to make games for Windows, Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Support for desktop and mobile OSs like Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and even Oculus Rift are reportedly coming soon.
The free gaming engine is based on Crytek's CryEngine and incorporates technology acquired from Double Helix in 2014. All of that technology allows game makers using Lumberyard greater control over character animations, camera frameworks, audio, AI elements and effects over particles, weather, water and even plants.
Along with a free gaming engine, Amazon also released what it calls GameLift. GameLift is a service directly linked to Amazon Web Services that allows developers to build the backends for their games quickly and easily. It will cost $1.50 per 1,000 daily active users, while AWS will be priced at the normal rates. For Lumberyard, Amazon's source of revenue will come straight from charges it makes for using AWS.
Lumberyard is currently in beta for now, but it's already free to use and download starting today. Amazon's introduction of its free gaming engine can be viewed below.