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Amazon Games cut 180 jobs shortly after Amazon report massive profits

"Roadmapping for our future"

The Amazon Games logo in gold font on a black background
Image credit: Amazon

2023's games industry jobapocalypse continues with news that Amazon Games are laying off 180 people. This includes the entirety of the Twitch service Crown Channel, plus its Game Growth division, and accompanies a shift in focus for the company's Prime Gaming service.

The news comes from reader-funded editorial website Aftermath, which was recently founded by a number of seasoned journalists, including former RPS staff writer Nathan Grayson. Amazon themselves have now confirmed Aftermath's report and shared an internal email to staff about the layoffs.

"We've listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there," Amazon Games VP Cristoph Hartmann wrote in the email. "With these changes in our business approach come changes to our resourcing, resulting in the elimination of just over 180 roles."

Launched in 2020, Crown Channel was a gaming, celeb and pop culture channel with gamified elements that let viewers steer the direction of shows via Twitch chat, polls and on-screen minigames. According to Bloomberg, Amazon have significantly exaggerated its audience numbers. Game Growth was a kind of R&D division devoted to "reimagining how game creators promote their products across the globe".

"I know this is difficult news and that the impact will be felt widely," Hartmann went on in the email to staff (published in full by The Verge). "It never feels good to say goodbye to colleagues. This isn't a decision the leadership team came to quickly; it was the result of extensive considerations and road mapping for our future.

"We are proud of the work the teams have been doing, pushing into new areas with weekly content on Crown Channel, and finding more ways to help publishers reach new audiences with Game Growth. But after further evaluation of our businesses, it became clear that we need focus our resources and efforts to deliver great games to players now and in the future."

Haartman also took a moment to reiterate Amazon’s desire to become "one of the leading developers and publishers of high-quality games", insisting that Amazon’s various in-house game development projects (which include a new Tomb Raider and a second attempt at a Lord of the Rings MMO) are in good health. "Our internal studios are actively recruiting and hiring to fill critical roles as they develop new IP, while Prime Gaming continues to secure deals and deliver compelling content for members every month," he wrote.

The news follows tens of thousands of layoffs earlier this year across Amazon and Twitch (which Amazon owns). Twitch CEO Dan Clancy told staff in March that "our business has been impacted by the current macroeconomic environment, and user and revenue growth has not kept pace with our expectations", which as Kaan pointed out, sounds a lot like an admission that Twitch were unprepared for the cessation of the stay-at-home social distancing measures that contributed to a games industry boom across 2021-2022.

As Nathan notes in the Aftermath piece, Hartmann's defence of the latest cuts seems a bit rich given that, post-pandemic macroeconomics notwithstanding, Amazon as a whole have recently announced vast profits, with revenue jumping by 13 per cent to $143.1 billion in the three months up to 30 September.

Update 15th November 2023: Following publication of this piece, Amazon have clarified that the closure of Crown Channel and Game Growth are not directly related to their shift in focus regarding Prime Gaming, and we've amended our intro accordingly.

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