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article imageAmazon launches its own free game engine, no royalties required

By James Walker     Feb 9, 2016 in Entertainment
Amazon has added a new product to its growing range of cloud-based software development kits and tools. The company has released its own game engine which will be free for game developers to use to quickly build high-quality games.
Called Amazon Lumberyard, the game engine is designed to simplify the process of building high-quality games that run across different platforms. It provides developers with a complete toolchain and editor suite to make and publish video games using Amazon Web Services (AWS).
"Amazon Lumberyard is a free, cross-platform, 3D game engine for you to create the highest-quality games, connect your games to the vast compute and storage of the AWS Cloud, and engage fans on Twitch," Amazon writes on Lumberyard's website. "By starting game projects with Lumberyard, you can spend more of your time creating great gameplay and building communities of fans, and less time on the undifferentiated heavy lifting of building a game engine and managing server infrastructure."
The engine is based on Crytek's CryEngine and can be used to build 3D titles ranging from simple platform games to triple-A blockbusters. Game engines such as Lumberyard, CryEngine, Unity and Unreal Engine let developers concentrate on the content in their game without having to reinvent the wheel to get 3D graphics, sound and input working from scratch. These critical components are already provided so the developer can get straight to work on the unique elements of their game.
Screenshots of a game rendered in Amazon s new Lumberyard game engine
Screenshots of a game rendered in Amazon's new Lumberyard game engine
At launch, Lumberyard can be used to build games for Windows 10, Xbox One and the PlayStation 4. Mobile support will be added in the future, once Amazon acquires the necessary licenses, and compatibility with VR headsets is currently in testing.
Amazon Web Services, Amazon's extensive cloud server network, can be easily integrated with Lumberyard games to facilitate online multiplayer gaming, progress synchronization and coordinated online events. Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games, explained to Gamasutra that Lumberyard has been built based on the requests of game developers who already use AWS. They wanted a game engine with deep, pre-built links to the service, something Amazon has delivered.
The aim with Lumberyard is to help game developers create titles with large communities of persistent fans. Frazzini said it targets "developers that are really interested in garnering large and vibrant communities of fans."
With that in mind, Lumberyard also has rich integration with game broadcast platform Twitch. Gamers around the world frequently watch star players tackle popular games, a phenomenon that has become more widespread in recent years.
Lumberyard will support key Twitch commands within the core of the engine, making it simpler for streamers to broadcast their gameplay. An additional component, known as JoinIn, will let viewers go straight to the location in a game where a streamer is playing to become directly involved in the action.
Screenshots of a game rendered in Amazon s new Lumberyard game engine
Screenshots of a game rendered in Amazon's new Lumberyard game engine
For now, Lumberyard remains in beta but is now available to game developers interested in using it in their next title. The engine is open-source and completely free to download and use. Amazon won't be collecting royalties from developers, making it an attractive option for small indie firms.
Instead, Amazon will profit from companies hosting their published projects on its AWS servers. Developers will only need to pay for the resources they use which may end up being nothing if they build single-player games distributed from their own web server.
Amazon is already using Lumberyard internally and claims it is ready for use with commercial games and the general gaming audience. It may be a little while before the first third-party titles hit the market but Lumberyard stands a real chance of becoming popular, thanks to AWS integration, quick access to Twitch and a core based on one of the most widespread game engines in use today.
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