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Amazon’s Crucible cancelled after spending only a month released

Crucible, a free-to-play PvP action shooter from Amazon’s gaming division has been cancelled.

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Crucible - Amazon
Amazon Game Studios

“…ultimately we didn’t see a healthy, sustainable future ahead.”

Mention ‘Crucible’ and you might be thinking of Destiny 2’s competitive PVP arena, and not the Destiny-killer Amazon quite hoped for.

In what is surely one of the most bizarre, no doubt record-breaking stories of the year, the new free-to-play PvP action shooter on the block from Amazon’s gaming division has been cancelled four months after returning to closed-beta. It spent just one month between May and June released before being effectively ‘unreleased’ back into beta to collect fan feedback. Servers will stay up for custom games until Monday November 9, 2020.

In its short time in the wild, Crucible didn’t get the most warm reception. Its Metacritic score stands at 56, Opencritic average at 54 a User Score of 4.2, and it sits forever now at a mixed rating on Steam.

The statement from ‘the Crucible team’ reads:

“That evaluation led us to a difficult decision: we’ll be discontinuing development on Crucible. We very much appreciate the way that our fans have rallied around our efforts, and we’ve loved seeing your responses to the changes we’ve made over the last few months, but ultimately we didn’t see a healthy, sustainable future ahead of Crucible. We’ll be transitioning our team to focus on New World and other upcoming projects from Amazon Games.”

It’s all the more tragic that the developers had to adapt to the ongoing pandemic with social distancing requiring buildings to be closed and several coronavirus-related delays. This affected the launch, promotion, and no doubt the recommenced development.

Crucible had some veteran developers working on it too. The creative director of Tom Clancy’s Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory and Far Cry 2, Clint Hocking, spent a year as the game’s creative director. It’s final creative director was one of the design lead of Guild Wars 2, Eric Flannum. With an associated credits list 1110 people long, there really are too many people to name.

The game clearly suffered from protracted development, transforming from its original conception of a battle royale built for Twitch integration to a MOBA-esque third-person shooter that didn’t leverage any of Amazon’s advantages. Amazon bought Twitch in 2014 for $1 billion lest we forget. Again, bizarre.

It’s not the first Amazon Game Studios casualty. Their fantasy brawler Breakaway was cancelled after a four-month-long Alpha test. This leaves just one game out of the three Amazon Game Studios announced in 2016 standing –  New World.

Amazon seems to now be betting big on New World, their take on an open world MMO. The game is available to pre-purchase with a release indicated for ‘Spring 2021,’ but there’s extensive testing to go. The next phase of testing is due in November and Spring 2021 will see a closed beta. And yet I thought that timeframe was due to be the release? Let’s hope New World doesn’t see the same confused slipping in and out of beta as Crucible did.

The one heartening take on this story is that it demonstrates money can’t simply buy success in the games industry. Amazon has sunk hundreds of millions of dollars into ‘becoming a leading creator and distributor of video games,’ and yet they just can’t crack it. Meanwhile, the surprise mega hits of the year have all come from much smaller operations: Fall Guys, Among Us, and recently Phasmophobia. The saturated field of free-to-play shooters with Destiny 2 and Warframe available is too big a hurdle for any derivative game no matter the budget, I suspect.

If you’ve been involved with the game’s playtesting, the team promises a final playtest and community celebration in-game and on the Discord “in the next few weeks.”

Science and 'video shame' writer. Probably looking for political messages about meaningful systemic change in the latest Star Wars game.