Amazon Games studio head Mike Frazzini is stepping down to focus on his family according to a Bloomberg article. Since 2009, Frazzini has assisted in the leadership of Amazon’s game division and has played a key role in the development of the company’s gaming studio.
In a statement to Bloomberg, Amazon spokesperson Ryan Jones stated, “Mike was there from the outset of Amazon Games, and his leadership and perseverance helped create the games industry from the bottom up.” “The recent success of New World and Lost Ark is a result of the long-term, customer-focused vision for games that he helped build.” We appreciate everything he’s done for us, and we wish Mike nothing but the best.”
Last year, Bloomberg published a piece alleging that Frazzini, who started his career at Amazon directing the books sector of the marketplace, lacked experience with games and frequently ignored the advice of the developers he recruited. According to the source, Frazzini would understaff projects and have developers “follow” the latest fads, resulting in flops such as the Fortnite-inspired Intensity and League of Legends-inspired Nova that never saw the light of day.
However, these weren’t the only games that Amazon had trouble with. Due to poor reception, Amazon Games dropped their fantasy sports game Breakaway in 2018 and removed The Grand Tour, a racing game based on the same-named show, in 2020. Crucible, a free-to-play Overwatch-style shooter, was one of Amazon Games’ biggest disappointments, with the company canceling the game after it was released and then re-releasing it in closed beta. “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet,” Amazon CEO Andy Jassy wrote in an email to employees last year. If we stay the course, I believe we will succeed.”
New World, an MMORPG published last fall, was a hit for Amazon Games, but it wasn’t without its challenges; the game’s launch date was pushed back many times before ultimately becoming live in September 2021. Its free-to-play Lost Ark, which was previously only available in South Korea, has also gotten positive feedback. Following its English localization, Lost Ark became Steam’s second most popular game, resulting in server difficulties and long wait times.