Amazon spent 6 years and tens of millions of dollars making a huge new game that just got quietly killed
Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon. Alex Wong / Getty Images
On May 20, Amazon launched "Crucible", a major online multiplayer video game that is supposed to compete with the likes of "Fortnite". Amazon had been working on the game since at least 2014.
"Crucible" was Amazon's latest attempt to enter the lucrative video game industry.
A week after launch, the game fell off the charts with an average of fewer than 5,000 players. A month later, Amazon withdrew the game from availability and put it back into "closed beta," a term used in game development to indicate that a game is incomplete.
Now "Crucible" is being killed. "Ultimately, we didn't see a healthy, sustainable future ahead of us," read a post on the game's blog published on Friday. "We're going to stop developing Crucible."
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Did you know that Amazon, the largest company in the world, launched a big budget video game this year?
The game is called "Crucible" and you might be forgiven if this is the first time you hear about it. Although "Crucible" is free to play and available on the world's largest gaming platform, Steam, it quickly came and went from the top 100 list.
A week after its launch in late May, the online multiplayer game had an average of less than 5,000 players - a big problem as it was supposed to compete with the likes of Fortnite and Valorant.
At the end of June, Amazon pulled the game out of digital stores and put it back into closed beta, a game development term that means a game is not complete. And in a blog post published on Friday night, "Crucible" was killed.
"Ultimately, we did not see a healthy, sustainable future ahead of us," says the article. "That assessment led us to a difficult decision: we will stop developing Crucible."
All in-game purchases made by players are eligible for a refund and the ability to purchase in-game currency has already been suspended. The game's matchmaking functionality, which enables multiplayer, will be disabled "in the coming weeks," with a final expiration date for custom games on November 9, the post said.
"Crucible" is a team-based online multiplayer shooter that is more inspired by online multiplayer battle arena games like League of Legends and DOTA 2 than by competitive shooters like Fortnite.
It is also a PC-focused free game that competes directly with games like Valorant and Fortnite. Amazon's goal for Crucible, which it has been working on since at least 2014, was to attract tens of millions of players and, with luck, make it an important esports game.
Amazon "melting pot". Amazon
The contrast between the launch of "Crucible" and the launch of "Valorant" shows why the former failed while the latter succeeded.
When Valorant released earlier that year, it was available in a closed beta that you could only access by watching Twitch streamers play the game live. A "drop" system tied to Twitch accounts gives viewers free access to the beta. That way, new "Valorant" players already had an idea of how to play the game because they'd seen someone play it live.
In the weeks before and after the launch of "Crucible", Amazon, which owns Twitch, did not use its own streaming service to promote the game. There weren't any major streamers playing the game and hyping it up, no trailers being advertised, and no drop system to get early access to it. Likewise, ads for "Crucible" were nowhere to be seen on YouTube.
"Crucible" had about 25,000 concurrent players at its peak on May 21st. By May 22nd, two days after launch, it had already been removed from Steam's list of the 100 most played games, which bottomed out with around 5,000 concurrent players.
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