John Smedley to Head Amazon Game Studios' New San Diego Office

His team is already working on a new multiplayer game leveraging the Amazon Cloud and Twitch.

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Former Daybreak Game Company boss John Smedley has joined Amazon Game Studios to head up its new San Diego office. And while the team is still small, it has already begun work on its first game.

Smedley recently closed his old studio Pixelmage Games after it failed to get Kickstarter funding for an 8-bit title called Hero Song. He wasn't out of work long, as Amazon brought him aboard to lead its new team that is "hard at work on an ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch to connect players around the globe in a thrilling new game world," Amazon said in a statement.

“Amazon is getting into games in a big way, and I really like their dedication to doing big things.” Smedley told VentureBeat. He added that several members of the Pixelmage team had joined him at the new studio, which currently has a staff of 14.

Smedley was at Sony Online Entertainment for 20 years, leading the division for 15 of those. He oversaw such projects as EverQuest 1 and 2, Planetside 1 and 2, H1Z1 and DC Universe Online. Sony sold the division to Columbus Nova in 2015, where it became Daybreak Game Company. Smedley abruptly left Daybreak in July of that year after a Twitter war with a member of the hacker group Lizard Squad. He formed Pixelmage in January of last year, before closing it less than a year later.

Contributing Editor
From The Chatty
  • reply
    February 15, 2017 11:35 AM

    John Keefer posted a new article, John Smedley to Head Amazon Game Studios' New San Diego Office

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      February 15, 2017 1:13 PM

      Nice of you guys to omit the fact that he oversaw the destruction of Star Wars Galaxies.

      #neverforget

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        February 15, 2017 2:04 PM

        i feel like the staff here doesnt get enough love...

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          February 15, 2017 2:21 PM

          Staff are fine, Smedley is garbage.

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        February 15, 2017 2:18 PM

        also everquest

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        February 15, 2017 2:46 PM

        Yes, this is accurate.

        I'm still bitter about the game changing drastically in beta. It's like they almost threw out the entire design doc and decided to wing it.

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        February 15, 2017 5:54 PM

        Star Wars Galaxies was dead after NGE.

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          February 16, 2017 12:23 AM

          True. The initial SWG, while not perfect had a breadth that was really cool and it felt like a worthy successor to the Ultimate Online way of doing this.

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        February 16, 2017 3:46 AM

        A dev lead came out a couple years ago taking the blame.

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      February 15, 2017 2:26 PM

      People shit on this guy constantly, but overall he has a solid grasp of what he's doing.

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      February 15, 2017 3:10 PM

      Can someone please explain something to me? He's in charge of SOE Games for years, gets laid off because SOE games was Hemorrhaging money for years due to lack of direction. Then He tries to start his own game. No one will privately fund it, so he goes to kick starter and it fails. And now amazon pays him 250K+ a year to manage amazon Game studios. How is he still working in the games Industry? His resume has RED FLAGS all over it.

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        February 15, 2017 4:45 PM

        IIRC his Kickstarter didnt "fail", they closed it because they suddenly realized they had the funding required to work on the game...but still 1 year later shut down the studio anyway.

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        February 15, 2017 5:09 PM

        Heading a company that put out multiple games per year for nearly 20 years is nothing to sneeze at. And if you're attributing all SOE's failures to him you should probably do the same with it's successes, which includes multiple successful large scale MMOs.

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        February 15, 2017 5:58 PM

        I don't have a problem with him personally but this is kind of what I was wondering too. I'm sure I must be missing something though.

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        February 15, 2017 6:13 PM

        Given what we've learned on here about Amazon's culture especially around leadership positions, I bet they did not have candidates working at his level (even though we see him as having failed at that level) beating down their door.

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          February 16, 2017 1:58 AM

          Amazon Game Studios has hired a lot of big talent over the years (Kim Swift, Clint Hocking, Rich Hilleman, Eric Nylund) and has basically nothing to show for it so far. They keep trying to hire their way into the gaming industry. That's not how it works.

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        February 15, 2017 6:59 PM

        250k - well north of there. Amazon is pumping tons of money into games right now. They probably gave him 250k in stock alone.

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      February 15, 2017 6:03 PM

      I thought that said John Steakley for a second and got excited before realizing "Why? Why would he have anything to do with that?" (author of Armor, the book which makes Starship Troopers look like a child's crayon scribblings)

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      February 15, 2017 6:10 PM

      This is the Smedley I want in charge.

      https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smedley_Butler

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      February 15, 2017 11:57 PM

      This is gonna fail.

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      February 16, 2017 12:23 AM

      As someone who previously worked closely with Smed....what, was no one else available?

      This guy is a mess.

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      February 16, 2017 4:33 AM

      Booooooo