Amazon might be working on a game console, after all.
The online-retail giant on Thursday confirmed its purchase of Double Helix Games, the PC and console video-game maker behind Silent Hill Homecoming and the reboot of Killer Instinct for Xbox One, for an undisclosed amount of money. The deal “was for both talent and IP,” according to TechCrunch, which was the first to report on the acquisition; Double Helix’s 75 employees in Irvine, California, will now work for Amazon.
What Amazon Can Do With Double Helix
Amazon has quietly become a presence in games, with studios in Seattle, San Francisco, and Irvine. Its efforts to date have primarily been in casual and social titles, rather than the console games Double Helix is known for. Amazon hasn’t commented on its strategy in games, but one obvious reason why it benefits from owning game studios is to guarantee a flow of titles for its own hardware, like the Kindle Fire tablet.
Amazon could be looking past its current hardware offerings, though. According to a report last week from video-game news site VG247.com, Amazon may release a sub-$300 Android-powered gaming console later this year.
You might be thinking, “Wait, didn’t somebody already try an Android-powered gaming console?” You would be right: The Ouya console, which was one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns in the platform’s history, but didn't live up to its own hype. Part of Ouya's problem, many agreed, was its lack of fresh game titles. With a quality game developer like Double Helix at its disposal, Amazon can ensure its exclusive offerings stand up to the quality from other competing consoles.
An Amazon game console might actually be part of a set-top device (like la Apple TV or Roku) to push the company’s ever-expanding digital library of movies, Amazon Instant Video. And Amazon’s Kindle tablets could serve as both game controllers and TV remotes.
In the short term, Amazon could simply be aiming to bring console-style gameplay to tablets—a strategy many in the game industry are pursuing.
Double Helix is almost exclusively a maker of PC and console games, many of them movie tie-ins like G.I. Joe: The Rise Of Cobra and Green Lantern: Rise Of The Manhunters. The company has long played in Hollywood. It was formed through a merger between two well-known development studios in 2007: Shiny Entertainment, known for the classic title Earthworm Jim, and The Collective, which also built Hollywood tie-in games like Indiana Jones and the Emperor’s Tomb and Buffy The Vampire Slayer.
Double Helix has an upcoming game for PC, PS4 and Xbox One, a remake of the NES hit Strider. Other unreleased titles such as Dirty Harry and Harker won’t get made as a result of the deal. Amazon says Double Helix will support its current lineup of games, as well as “other future developments." That leaves it unclear whether Double Helix will make games for other platforms in the future—or just work on Amazon projects.
Lead image by thisisbossi on Flickr, Ouya image by Lauren Orsini for ReadWrite