Amazon announced another cluster of layoffs this week along with plans to discontinue the Crown channel, a flashy Amazon-run Twitch channel that featured television-like programming. Amazon will also shutter its Game Growth group, which helped creators in the gaming world market themselves.
In a letter to staff, Amazon Games VP Christoph Hartmann characterized the decision as a move that would put more emphasis on offering free games to subscribers through Prime Gaming. “We’ve listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there,” Hartmann wrote.
The layoffs will affect “just over” 180 roles across those groups. In April, Amazon eliminated around 100 roles in its games division. “After our initial restructuring in April, it became clear that we needed to focus our resources even more on the areas that are growing with the highest potential to drive our business forward,” Hartmann wrote.
In February, Bloomberg reported that Amazon’s Crown channel on Twitch was inflating viewer numbers artificially using “junk views.” The Crown channel attracted advertisers through expensive home page promotion that at times made the channel appear as popular as Twitch’s top tier streamers.
“Although Crown appears to draw in thousands of viewers each livestream, comparatively few people follow the channel or participate in its chats—suggesting they aren’t engaging with the content,” Bloomberg reported at the time.
According to Amazon spokesperson Brittney Hefner, the restructuring will focus Amazon’s gaming efforts on its “primary business” of creating games in-house — like New World, its 2021 massive multiplayer title and a forthcoming Lord of the Rings game — and publishing games from outside developers.
The company provided the full memo to staff, which is embedded below.
I have some important news to share with you all today about the future of our business.
As I’ve shared previously, our goal for Amazon Games is to become one of the leading creators of high-quality gaming content that delights players for years to come. Part of this bold vision involves experimentation as we explore what gamers want most and we regularly review these experiments to ensure we’re creating the most impact.
After our initial restructuring in April, it became clear that we needed to focus our resources even more on the areas that are growing with the highest potential to drive our business forward. As such, the leadership team and I have made the difficult decision to close two of our initiatives – Crown Channel and Game Growth. We are also refocusing our efforts for Prime Gaming. We’ve listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there. With these changes in our business approach come changes to our resourcing, resulting in the elimination of just over 180 roles.
I know this is difficult news and that the impact will be felt widely. It never feels good to say goodbye to colleagues. This isn’t a decision the leadership team came to quickly; it was the result of extensive considerations and road mapping for our future. We are proud of the work the teams have been doing, pushing into new areas with weekly content on Crown Channel, and finding more ways to help publishers reach new audiences with Game Growth. But after further evaluation of our businesses, it became clear that we need focus our resources and efforts to deliver great games to players now and in the future.
Each employee whose role has been impacted should now have a live meeting scheduled this morning so we can discuss these changes directly. We are also working to ensure all impacted employees are given the support they need on an individual level, including severance pay, outplacement services, health insurance benefits and more. Your managers, business leaders and HRBPs are available for conversations and we have a licensed counselor available 24/7 through our Employee Assistance Program (US Phone: 1-833-721-2323, outside of the US, please click here for contact information).
I recognize that this is the second time this year that you are hearing about org-wide team changes and seeing colleagues go, so let me be very clear when I say this: I remain confident in our future. We are developing and publishing great games with high potential, our studio teams are growing, and our roadmap is bright. We are focused on our upcoming publishing launches for Throne and Liberty and Blue Protocol, as well as future projects like our Tomb Raider and The Lord of the Rings games, and our projects with Glowmade and Disruptive Games. Our internal studios are actively recruiting and hiring to fill critical roles as they develop new IP, while Prime Gaming continues to secure deals and deliver compelling content for members every month. We are committed to our vision of becoming one of the leading developers and publishers of high-quality games, and focusing our resources accordingly will help us get there.
If you have questions, please reach out to me or your team leads.