Game Marketing Tips, Analysis, and News

Monday, August 1, 2011

Amazon And Gaming

Maybe you'll be done looking for social games, too.
As you may have read in my article on last week, Amazon is getting into social gaming. They've hired noted RPG designer Jonathan Tweet to lead a team designing a social game, though they haven't made any public comments on their plans. I was interested to see that many different media outlets picked up the story, from Dean Takahashi at VentureBeat to BusinessInsider. Then there were the Chinese rewrites that got rather strange... and all the sites that scraped the news from other sites... the Internet's echo chamber is interesting to observe. I just wish all those places had kept this blog's address or my byline in the text, but I guess that's too much to ask.

My speculation is that Amazon must intend to do more than one social game, since it's pretty clear from social gaming companies that they derive a huge benefit from having multiple games. (Basically, they get a good chance to keep their audience when they get bored with a game, by switching them to one of their other games.) I further speculated that Amazon may well intend to stuff this social game onto the rumored Android tablet that Amazon is working on, which may be released later this year.

It's interesting to note that Amazon already powers up to 80% of all social games, according to Jeff Barr, the evangelist for their Web Services division. That division handles cloud computing services for a wide variety of clients, from Netflix to NASA. That division is expected to pull in around $750 million this year. Perhaps Amazon looked at the kind of usage numbers and revenue that Zynga is pulling in (since Zynga is one of their clients) and figured, hey, we should be in this business too!

Amazon may find it's not as easy as just throwing a game or two up there. I'm sure Jonathan can come up with a good design, but the implementation is going to take some work. The real challenge will be marketing, as the social game space is already crowded with a wide variety of players and games. If Amazon wants to carve out an audience, they're going to need some serious marketing spending if they want to ramp quickly. Sure, putting a social game on their new tablet will help in a big way, putting the game in front of millions of players in a few months. But they should be planning to reach beyond that audience, which is going to take some doing.

I wonder if they might be planning to attract some of their vast readership on the Kindle to a social game... maybe readers who like some of the genre fiction that's been doing so well on the Kindle. Paranormal romance social gaming? I won't be rushing to sign up, but that could hit big in the teen angst market.

One thing will be interesting to watch for: If Amazon does get into social gaming, will Zynga pull their business and switch to another cloud provider?

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