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Amazon Opens Lumberyard to Game Devs

By Quinten Plummer
Feb 11, 2016 11:45 AM PT
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Amazon on Tuesday announced that it has widened its footprint in the game industry, complementing its development studio with the Lumberyard 3D game engine.

Based on core components of Crytek's CryEngine, Lumberyard will support development for PCs and consoles (Xbox One and PlayStation 4). Amazon plans to add support for mobile devices and virtual reality gear soon.

The game engine, which is available in a beta build, is free of charge, and there is neither a subscription fee nor revenue-sharing model to bar entry to small development teams.

Lumberyard also will grant developers access to its source code and allow them to redistribute it to modders. However, Amazon is reserving its rights to Lumberyard's core, so it isn't open source.

The Worksite

Amazon has been active at this worksite for years. That movement included a billion-dollar buyout of video game streaming service Twitch, the formation of Amazon Game Studios, and a reported US$50 million to $70 million to the troubled Crytek in exchange for licensing rights to its CryEngine technology.

There's also Amazon Web Services, which spokesperson Rena Lunak said has been serving some of the world's biggest games and studios for years.

"When we talked to these customers, they asked for a powerful game engine that is inexpensive, helps them connect their games to the AWS cloud and to a large and growing community of broadcasters and fans on Twitch," she told TechNewsWorld. "With Lumberyard, this is what we did. Cloud and community are important aspects of making games."

To help developers tap into AWS, which is optional, Amazon launched GameLift alongside Lumberyard. GameLift will facilitate the deployment of servers across AWS for multiplayer play.

Amazon is charging its standard fees for AWS and is offering GameLift by the seat, which is priced at $1.50 per every 1,000 active daily users.

"With Amazon Lumberyard, we aim to help developers spend more and more of their time creating differentiated gameplay and building communities of fans, and less time on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building game engine components and managing server infrastructure," Lunak said.

Workers Wanted

With more support inbound, Lumberyard could rival go-to game engine Unity, said Christine Arrington, senior analyst of games at IHS. With Amazon's industry-leading AWS at the back end, Lumberyard could be "extremely attractive to new developers."

For developers, Amazon's top two objectives for Lumberyard appear to be making it easy for them to integrate AWS and just as easy for them to optimize games for e-sports through Twitch, she told TechNewsWorld.

"This makes two of Amazon's services indispensable to games developed on Lumberyard," Arrington said. "It also allows Amazon to monetize its game engine in ways that other engine makers cannot."

For Amazon's part, it gets an in-house engine, she noted. That's typical for developers and technology companies.

"Everyone from EA with its Frostbite engine to Rock Star with RAGE seem to have their own proprietary engine," Arrington said. "Many developers see it as a competitive advantage. So having an in-house engine for any games that Amazon develops serves that function."

As far as its impact on the industry, Lumberyard may make bigger waves in the e-sports sector than the broader game industry, she noted.

"Many developers are already using Amazon Web Services, and that part simply makes using those services more streamlined," said Arrington. "If Amazon can attract more developers to its services and bring new titles in to e-sports, the competition gets tougher for other publishers trying to expand the spectator market."


Quinten Plummer is a longtime technology reporter and an avid PC gamer who explored local news for a few years, covering law enforcement and government beats, before returning to writing about things run by ones and zeros and the people who make them. If it pushes pixels or improves lives, he wants to learn all he can about it.


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