Crucible was supposed to put publisher Amazon Game Studios on the map as its first major, successful release. The free-to-play multiplayer shooter however was a complete disaster and had to be cancelled just five months after release.
Speaking with NME in a recent interview, former senior systems designer Stephen Dewhurst revealed that Crucible was doomed from the start. Amazon Game Studios, at least at the time, was “not a great place to make games” due to unfounded leadership qualities and unnecessary meddling with development.
“Fundamentally Amazon’s executive leadership has a lot of hubris that stems from having been very successful at a bunch of stuff and thinking that their success in those things translates to success in other things when they’re not remotely similar,” said Dewhurst. “There’s just a bunch of all-hands where I can recall executives giving answers that at the time we’d look at as wildly incorrect.”
Dewhurst also recalled that the Amazon Game Studios executives prohibited their developers from working on other projects or other roles to improve themselves. The publisher was afraid that one of them would end up making the next Minecraft but which Amazon would have no rights to.
“During my seven years there I was prohibited from learning anything about how to create art, or engineering, or production, or allowed to work on a smaller team, or a larger team, or in a different role,” said Dewhurst. “I would be better at my job if you would let me learn these things, then a bunch of executives would be like, why would learning things help you do your job?
“It was such a weird thing because they were like, ‘what if your stuff competes with my stuff?’ You’re making 40million dollar AAA’s here, I just want to make a little physics simulation! And they’re like ‘no, what if the game you make…what if you know it’s going to be the next Minecraft and you’re not telling us because you could make it on the side?’
Whether the same lackluster leadership and barring policies remain at Amazon Game Studios today is unknown. The publisher though has found some success with New World, a massively multiplayer online role-playing game which was released last September. The game managed to hit an all-time peak of over 900,000 concurrent players on Steam but which has drastically stabilized to less than 100,000 in recent months.