February 6, 2023

Amazon said on Thursday it would release the next iteration of its hit video game series “Tomb Raider,” in a coup for the tech giant’s video game business.

Tomb Raider, an action-adventure game developed by California-based game studio Crystal Dynamics, stars Lara Croft, a British archaeologist, as she travels through unexplored parts of the world tombs, solve puzzles and fight villains.

Recent releases of the game, such as the critically acclaimed 2018 title Shadow of the Tomb Raider, are published by Japanese company Square Enix. The franchise has also inspired several feature films.

Crystal Dynamics remains the developer of the upcoming game, which has yet to confirm a release date and is in early development. But Amazon will be the publisher, meaning the company is working closely with Crystal Dynamics on “creative support” and handling tasks such as marketing, publishing the game on various retail and online platforms, and advertising.

The new Tomb Raider game will be the first major single-player game released by Amazon Games, which has struggled for years to break into the challenging, isolating world of game development before finally finding a niche in multiplayer online gaming. Adding a flagship single-player game to its portfolio could be an important step that could boost Amazon’s credibility in the industry.

“This is a big moment for us,” Christopher Hartman, Amazon’s vice president of games, said in an interview. “If someone told you four years ago that Amazon was making games, you would have laughed.”

Amazon’s decade-old video game division has struggled under the leadership of longtime Amazon executive Mike Frazzini, who left the company this year. In 2018, the company invited Mr. Hartmann, an industry veteran from 2K Games (producer of popular games such as NBA 2K), to report to Mr. Frazzini.

In 2021, Google, which is also involved in video games, shut down the internal game development department of its gaming service Stadia, and then announced this year that it would terminate the entire service. Some think Amazon and its video game ambitions could meet a similar fate.

But Amazon finally released a hugely popular multiplayer game, New World, last fall, and another hugely popular game, The Lost Ark, this spring.

Tomb Raider could build on that success. Although Amazon was late to the video game and lagged behind other deep-pocketed companies such as Microsoft, Mr. Hartman said he thought time was on his side as he was just a company that was patient and didn’t ask for immediate financial support. Part of a big company succeeds.

“I’m not part of that fierce competition of who’s better than who — I’m here to make great games,” he said.

After the conclusion of the trilogy of games detailing Lara Croft’s origin, the new Tomb Raider ) the game will be “returning to our roots,” though he says it’s too early to provide many details.

“There’s a logical evolution of what we can do next in terms of how we can really give her a bigger adventure and even more things for her to do, more worlds and mysteries for her to explore,” he said. .”

For Amazon, bringing in video game veterans has paid off. Mr. Amos’s studio initially had some skepticism about working with Amazon, which he said was persuaded given Amazon’s relative newness in the gaming space.

“When we started this conversation, we didn’t know what the team at Amazon was like,” Mr. Amos said. “We knew they had a few games there, but we started talking to Christopher and we were like, ‘Oh, by the way, we’ve all been in this business for 25, 30 years.'”

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