Dec 15, 2022 - Technology

Amazon will publish the next Tomb Raider video game

Tomb Raider (2013). Screenshot: Crystal Dynamic / Square Enix

In one of its boldest steps yet into the big-budget video game industry, Amazon announced today that it will publish the next game in the renowned Tomb Raider franchise.

Why it matters: Amazon is still chasing success in an industry where other corporate giants such as Google have poked around and failed.

Driving the news: Development of the new multiplatform game will be led by longtime franchise studio Crystal Dynamics and is described as “a single-player, narrative-driven adventure that continues Lara Croft’s story,” according to an announcement from Amazon.

  • No details were provided about plot, location or much about gameplay other than unsurprising news that it will involve exploration, puzzles and fighting enemies.
  • The game was teased in April with the announcement that Crystal Dynamics would be building it with Epic Games' new Unreal Engine 5.
  • Amazon will support development.

The big picture: Amazon is attempting to prove that its decade-long efforts to join the gaming big leagues are not the flop they long appeared to be.

  • For years, its studios have produced few releases, let alone any hits.
  • But last year's internally-developed massively multiplayer online game New World posted strong player numbers, and Amazon's effort to bring Korean game Lost Ark to the West was well-received.
  • Last week, the company announced plans to serve as the Western publisher for Bandai Namco Online's Blue Protocol. Amazon has two other external publishing deals and its studios in Montreal and San Diego are working on unannounced projects.
  • The company's gaming strategy now clearly will mix traditional game development and publishing (a la Activision, EA or Ubisoft) with the operation of its industry-leading live-streamer service Twitch and its nascent game-streaming platform Luna.

Yes, but the cautionary tale for Amazon is Google, which tried to muscle into gaming with its own internal studios and steaming platform, only to shut down operations gradually over the last couple of years.

  • The last corporate giant to successfully secure a lasting foothold in the Western gaming market is Microsoft, which released the first Xbox 21 years ago.

The intrigue: The Embracer Group bought Crystal Dynamics earlier this year from longtime owner SquareEnix, which had publicly expressing disappointment in the studios' games for maybe selling millions of copies, but not as many millions as projected.

  • In November, Crystal Dynamics owner The Embracer Group teased a "transformative partnership and licensing deal, that we have worked on with several industry partners. This deal covers a range of large-budget upcoming games over the coming six years."
  • "The agreement announced today is one of these deals," Embracer CEO Lars Wingefors said in a statement. "Additional deals are expected to close during the financial year 2022/23."

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Editor's note: This story has been updated with the statement from Embracer's CEO.

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