The new “Tomb Raider” game will be the first major, single-player game published by Amazon Games, which struggled for years to break into the challenging, insular world of game development
Written by Kellen Browning
Amazon said Thursday that it would publish the next iteration of the popular video game franchise “Tomb Raider,” 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 Lara Croft, a British archaeologist who traverses unexplored tombs around the world, solving puzzles and fighting villains.
Recent versions of the game, like the well-regarded 2018 title, “Shadow of the Tomb Raider,” were published by the Japanese company Square Enix. The franchise has also inspired several feature films.
Crystal Dynamics is still the developer for the upcoming game, which does not yet have a release date and is early in development. But Amazon will be the publisher, meaning the company is working closely with Crystal Dynamics on “creative support” and is responsible for tasks like marketing, shipping the title on various retail and online platforms, and advertising.
The new “Tomb Raider” game will be the first major, single-player game published by Amazon Games, which struggled for years to break into the challenging, insular world of game development before eventually finding a niche with multiplayer online games. Placing a flagship, single-player game under its portfolio could be a significant step and a boost to Amazon’s credibility in the industry.
“It’s a huge moment for us,” Christoph Hartmann, the vice president of Amazon Games, said in an interview. “If someone told you four years ago Amazon is making games, you would have laughed.”
Under Mike Frazzini, a longtime Amazon executive who departed the company this year, Amazon’s decade-old video game unit floundered. In 2018, the company brought in Hartmann, an industry veteran who founded 2K Games, which produces popular 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 ending the entire service. Some thought Amazon and its video game ambitions could meet a similar fate.
But Amazon finally released a popular multiplayer title, “New World,” last fall, and followed that up with another well-received game this spring, “Lost Ark.”
“Tomb Raider” could build on that success. Though Amazon is a late entrant into video games and trails other deep-pocketed companies like Microsoft, Hartmann says he thinks time is on his side, because he is just one part of a larger company that is patient and not asking for immediate financial success.
“I’m not part of that rat race for who is outperforming the other one — I’m here to build great games,” he said.
After wrapping up a trilogy of games detailing Lara Croft’s origins, the new “Tomb Raider” game will go “back to our roots,” said Scot Amos, the studio head at Crystal Dynamics, though he said it was too early to give many details.
“There’s a logical evolution of what we can do next there, as far as how we can actually 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 had some initial questions about partnering with Amazon, he said, given that it’s a relative newcomer in gaming, but they were won over.
“We didn’t know what Amazon’s group was like when we started this conversation,” Amos said. “We had known they had a few games out there, but we started talking to Christoph, and it’s like, ‘Oh, by the way, we all have 25, 30 years of history in this business.’ ”
This article originally appeared in The New York Times.