Amazon said Thursday it would publish the next iteration of the popular “Tomb Raider” video game franchise, a coup for the tech giant’s video game business. Tomb Raider, an action-adventure title developed by a California game studio called Crystal Dynamics, features the character of Lara Croft, a British archaeologist who traverses unexplored tombs around the world, solving puzzles and fighting villains.
Recent versions of the game, such as the well-known 2018 title, “Shadow of the Tomb Raider”, have been published by the Japanese company Square Enix. The franchise has also inspired several feature films.
Crystal Dynamics is still the developer of the upcoming game, which has no release date yet and is still in early development. But Amazon will be the publisher, meaning the company will work closely with Crystal Dynamics on “creative support” and be responsible for tasks such as marketing, shipping the title across various retail and online platforms, and advertising.
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The new “Tomb Raider” game will be the first major single-player game to be published by Amazon Games, which struggled for years to break into the challenging, isolated world of game development before finally finding a niche with online multiplayer games. games. Placing a flagship single-player game under its portfolio could be an important step and boost Amazon’s credibility in the industry.
“It’s a huge moment for us,” Amazon Games vice president Christoph Hartmann said in an interview. “If someone had told you four years ago that Amazon makes games, you would have laughed.”
Under Mike Frazzini, a longtime Amazon executive who left the company this year, Amazon’s decade-old video game unit floundered. In 2018, the company enlisted Hartmann, an industry veteran who founded 2K Games, which produces hit titles like NBA 2K, to report to Frazzini.
In 2021, Google, which had also made a foray into video games, shut down the in-house game development arm of its gaming service, Stadia, before announcing this year that it would be shutting down the entire service. Some thought that Amazon and its video game aspirations could meet a similar fate.
But Amazon finally released a popular multiplayer title last fall, “New World,” and followed that up with another well-received game this spring, “Lost Ark.”
“Tomb Raider” could build on that success. While Amazon is a late entrant to video games, leaving behind other big-pocketed companies like Microsoft, Hartmann says he thinks he has time on his side as he is just one part of a larger company that is patient and does not demand immediate financial success.
“I’m not in that rat race about who outperforms the other – I’m here to build great games,” he said.
After completing a trilogy of games detailing Lara Croft’s origins, the new “Tomb Raider” game is going “back to our roots,” said Scot Amos, the studio head at Crystal Dynamics, though he said that it was too early to give much detail. .
“There’s a logical evolution of what we can do next, insofar as we can give a bigger adventure and even more things for her to do and more worlds and mysteries for her to explore,” he said.
For Amazon, bringing in video game veterans has paid off. Amos’ studio initially had some questions about partnering with Amazon, he said, given that it’s a relative newcomer to gaming, but they were won over.
“We didn’t know what Amazon’s group was like when we started this conversation,” Amos said. “We knew they had a few games, but we started talking to Christoph and it was like, ‘Oh, by the way, we all have 25, 30 years of history in this industry.’ ”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.