Amazon’s new Fire TV is largely designed to compete with the Roku and Apple TV, streaming movies and TV shows from the Internet, with a few bonus features like voice search.
But as expected, the new set-top box is also poised to serve up a different type of content: Games. Rather than trying to match the Xbox One or PlayStation 4, the Fire TV will take yet another stab at bringing Android-based gaming to the living room — a path already well trod by a parade of lukewarmly received “microconsoles” like the Ouya, Green Throttle and GameStick.
A key difference between Amazon and the other guys, though: It will make some of the games itself.
Details about the full slate of games to come from Amazon Game Studios are still under wraps, but a sci-fi shooter called Sev Zero will lead the pack. Amazon Games VP Mike Frazzini confirmed what Re/code reported back in February — the company is hiring game developers with big games on their resumes.
“We’re making an increasing investment in games at Amazon Game Studios, and the games will span any number of genres, from kids all the way through to core games,” Frazzini said. “We’re hiring a lot of industry veterans that’ve made some of the best games ever released.”
A few of those games, according to a recent job posting: Thief, System Shock 2, Half Life 2, Left for Dead, Age of Empires, Halo, Gears of War, Forza, Call of Duty and Bioshock. Update: That was fast. Two more for the list: Portal and Far Cry 2.
In February, Amazon also acquired Double Helix Games, the company behind Xbox One launch title Killer Instinct.
Those are some big, decidedly non-casual titles, so it may be that the more “core” titles produced by Amazon Games Studios’ deep bench will serve as an alternative to the primarily casual developers who will be coming from the mobile world. A teaser trailer for the in-house studio’s pipeline is embedded below.
In the vein of original video series produced by Netflix, YouTube and Amazon itself, original content bankrolled by a digital distributor is downright trendy these days. But as the offerings in the Fire TV store grow (the company claims “thousands” of games will be available soon), Amazon will also have to play a careful balancing act so as not to slight the third-party developers it wants to bring into its ecosystem.
“If you look at games, it’s a huge business,” Frazzini said. “There’s going to be lots of great games to play, and if we can make a couple of them, that’s fantastic and that’s where we’re going. But third-party developers are incredibly important to us. We want all of their games on it, and we want to help them be super successful.”