Amazon has unveiled two new products aimed at professional game developers: Lumberyard, a free 3D game engine; and GameLift, a service for building backends to deploy session-based multiplayer games. The two new products belong to Amazon’s Web Services (AWS) division, so developers can build cloud-connected games that can work across multiple platforms. Developers can download in beta today.
Amazon has been moving itself into the gaming world for a while now, opening up it’s Android based app store in 2011 including thousands of games and apps. Just a year later it launched Amazon Game Studios before acquiring Helix Games and live-streaming fame company – Twitch. Lumberyard will integrate directly with Twitch’s video platform and community.
Lumberyard will also harness two of Twitch’s new integration features; Chatplay – which allows games to respond to keywords in a Twitch chat stream to turn the gaming experience into a social and collaborative experience, and JoinIn – which allows users to invite watchers from within a chat channel.
“Many of the world’s most popular games are powered by AWS’s technology infrastructure platform,” said Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games. “When we’ve talked to game developers, they’ve asked for a game engine with the power and capability of leading commercial engines, but that’s significantly less expensive, and deeply integrated with AWS for the back-end and Twitch for the gamer community.”
Amazon GameLift will work in conjunction with Lumberyard, lettings developers scale their session-based multiplayer so it can be played by millions of people. It includes the key feature of being elastic – meaning it only allocates the server capacity for the amount of people playing at any one time. This is a key element to how Amazon wants to monetize gamers; a fee is attached for each daily active user, as well as the usual costs attached to Amazon’s EC2 cloud computing service.
This means that while Lumberyard itself is free, it is being used as the “hook” to get developers on board and paying for AWS services. It’s an obvious but smart move from Amazon and also important to note that they are giving the engine away for free to developers, putting the afore mentioned ‘Giants’ such as Unity under pressure.