Amazon Games branches out, announces it will publish the next Tomb Raider

Amazon Games branches out, announces it will publish the next Tomb Raider

A screenshot from the most recent main-series Tomb Raider title, 2018's <em>Shadow of the Tomb Raider</em>
Enlarge / A screenshot from the most recent main-series Tomb Raider title, 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider

Amazon’s games division will publish the next big Tomb Raider sequel, a press release revealed today.

The game will be developed by Crystal Dynamics—the same studio that made the reboot trilogy that included 2013’s Tomb Raider, 2015’s Rise of the Tomb Raider, and 2018’s Shadow of the Tomb Raider.

Crystal Dynamics used to live under the umbrella of large, Japan-based international publisher Square-Enix, but the parent company sold Crystal Dynamics and the Tomb Raider intellectual property to Swedish holding company Embracer Group earlier this year. That sale also included the Deus Ex, Thief, and Legacy of Kain franchises and associated studios—in other words, most of Square-Enix’s Western studios and properties.

It’s a surprise to see Amazon publishing the next Tomb Raider game because Embracer owns its own publishers of games. But Crystal Dynamics studio head Scot Amos said in a statement that Amazon Games is “uniquely positioned to rewrite what publishing and development collaborations are” and that they share the Tomb Raider team’s “vision, ambitions, and values.” To be clear, though: Amazon is not acquiring Tomb Raider or Crystal Dynamics, it’s just publishing the next game in the franchise.

Amazon Games has made some waves in the past couple of years, but it has largely been in the multiplayer space. Amazon has either developed multiplayer titles in-house (like the MMO New World) or published other studios’ multiplayer games. Previous hits from the company, like the hugely successful localization of the South Korean title Lost Ark, have targeted the same sorts of players who spend their time connecting with multiplayer communities on Twitch.

Given that history, this is the first single-player title announced by Amazon Games. Since Amazon’s previous entries have focused so much on synergizing with Twitch, Tomb Raider is a clear departure. There are popular streamers who play a variety of single-player games (they often go by the label “variety streamers”) but they are far from dominant; Twitch’s most-viewed channels are dominated by players who focus on just one or two online games, like World of Warcraft or Call of Duty: Warzone.

The press release describes some of what we can expect from the next Tomb Raider game, and it sounds like Amazon Games and Crystal Dynamics are looking to give fans of the recent reboot trilogy more of the same. It won’t be another reboot, and it will give players “control of the confident and multidimensional hero Lara Croft in an environment that rewards exploration and creative pathfinding, with mind-bending puzzles to solve, and a wide variety of enemies to face and overcome.”

The game will be developed in Unreal Engine 5 and is purportedly early in development, suggesting that we won’t see a release in the next two years.

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