Not content with taking on Apple and Samsung in the smartphone and tablet markets, Amazon, still known to most people only as the leading online retailer, appears to be gearing up for an assault on the console gaming sector. Seduced by the perspective of joining an industry that is expected to grow to $96 billion by 2018, the company set up in 2012 Amazon Game Studios. “We know that many Amazon customers enjoy playing games – including free-to-play social games – and thanks to Amazon’s know-how, we believe we can deliver a great, accessible gaming experience that gamers and our customers can play any time” stated the Studio right after its creation.
Then, this February, Amazon announced the acquisition of Double Helix Games, a California-based gaming studio that employs 75 people. Amazon, without giving the financial terms of the deal, commented “it is part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers”. Double Helix is a well-known company in the gaming sector, which has created numerous PC and console games. Its most popular release to date is Killer Instinct for Xbox, a project it will certainly lose following the merger with Amazon. According to Microsoft, a “new development partner” will be chosen to continue work on Killer Instinct.
Although Amazon says that “Double Helix’s current lineup of games and other future developments will be supported following the deal as well”, it would not be a surprise if the Seattle-based online retailer had more ambitious plans with its new acquisition than simply releasing some new games. Gaming sector experts have been whispering for a while that Amazon intends to come out with an Android-powered game and entertainment system that would enable consumers to stream or download not only games but also movies, music and TV content. According to gaming blog VG247.com, Amazon’s new console “will compete directly with PlayStation, Xbox and Nintendo” and cost less than $300.
Without any doubt, the Double Helix acquisition has brought experienced game developers to Amazon, who are able to create valuable games. And these games could later be used to attract consumers to buy also the company’s new console. Although Amazon having so far declined to comment on the console speculation, Money Morning projects “huge growth for Amazon in 2014”, adding that “the gaming push will be a big part of this spike”.