Amazon took a big step into the gaming industry Wednesday with the launch of Crucible, a free-to-play online shooter and the company's first original big-budget game.
The game, available for Windows 10, is a team-based shooter that lets players hunt down opponents. It's similar to other megahits such as Overwatch, Apex Legends, and Fortnite. It was initially announced in 2016.
Crucible will be a litmus test of sorts for Amazon as it looks to dive deeper into the crowded $120 billion video game industry. Amazon acquired Twitch in 2014 for nearly $1 billion and established Amazon Game Studios eight years ago, but hasn't launched many original titles and ran into several hiccups with canceled projects and layoffs.
"This division could have been an industry juggernaut in terms of leveraging Amazon's cash reserves and tech-industry dominance," Ars Technica noted. "Instead, it has limped to its current May 2020 state."
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Crucible is developed by Relentless Studios, a Seattle-based development team of Amazon Games led by Louis Castle, co-founder of Westwood Studios.
Early response to the game are mixed, with Ars Technica giving it a lukewarm review, The Verge noting that Crucible "will find an audience that's been itching for this particular mashup of design ideas and genres in an accessible package," and Engadget praising its "surprisingly solid gameplay foundation."
Amazon plans to launch another game, New World, in August.
Bloomberg reported that Crucible and New World could be part of Amazon's plan to launch a game-streaming service that would compete with offerings from Microsoft, Google, Sony, and others.
Amazon in 2016 unveiled Twitch Prime, a series of benefits for gamers that is included as part of the an Amazon Prime or Prime Video membership.