'New World': all you need to know about Amazon's smash hit video game

The world's biggest online retailer released the game a week ago and hundreds of thousands of gamers have already signed up to play

Amazon has been at the heart of our digital lives for some time now, whether we're watching Prime Video, interacting with Alexa, using the Kindle e-reader or simply visiting its website.

One area that the world’s biggest online retailer had not successfully moved into was video games – but that changed on September 28, when Amazon Game Studios, the video game development arm of Amazon, released New World, which has already garnered hundreds of thousands of players.

What's 'New World' all about?

It is an open world online game for PCs that is "filled with danger and opportunity where you'll forge a new destiny for yourself as an adventurer shipwrecked on the supernatural island of Aeternum", according to New World's website. "Endless opportunities to fight, forage and forge await you among the island's wilderness and ruins."

While New World is not yet available on consoles, players can buy a digital version of the game on Amazon – the deluxe edition costs $49.99, while the standard edition is $39.99.

Interest from gamers on Amazon’s live-streaming website Twitch has grown over the past week, while the first four online reviews of the game were generally positive, with an average score of 81 per cent on aggregator website Metacritic.

What has Amazon said?

Games could end up being the company's largest entertainment category over the long haul, Andy Jassy, Amazon's chief executive, said at a technology conference earlier this week hosted by Seattle tech news site GeekWire.

New World is off to a “great start” and has a couple of million active players a day, Mr Jassy said.

“There were a lot of articles written; people saying things like, 'Amazon knows how to build everything but games, why can’t they build games?'” Mr Jassy added. “It takes a few [attempts] before you find a hit, or several, but they didn’t lose their resolve.”

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos has also given New World his approval, tweeting: "After many failures and setbacks in gaming we have a success. So proud of the team for the persistence. View setbacks as helpful obstacles that drive learning. Whatever your goals are, don’t give up no matter how hard it gets."

He then posted a link to a Bloomberg article that was written in January this year that said Amazon could make anything except a decent video game.

"For a company that dominates countless areas of retail, consumer electronics and enterprise computing, the multiple failures in gaming show one realm that may be impervious to Amazon.com Inc’s distinctive business philosophy. It tried to make games the Amazon way, instead of simply making games people would want to play," the article said.

It takes a few [attempts] before you find a hit, or several, but they didn’t lose their resolve
Andy Jassy, chief executive of Amazon

David Cole, an analyst at DFC Intelligence, which tracks the video game industry, was more cautious on New World's apparent success. “It’s not what we consider a huge game, in the sense that if it wasn’t Amazon, I don’t think you would be paying that much attention to it,” he told Bloomberg.

What were Amazon's previous video game attempts?

It released a game called Crucible in May 2020, however, after disastrous reviews, it was scrapped and customers were given a refund.

"Despite some cool heroes and a neat twist on battle royale, Amazon’s long-awaited hero shooter wasn’t worth the wait," PC Gamer magazine said in a review.

It also released a racing simulation game based on The Grand Tour, a Prime Video programme starring Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May. However, it was also scrapped due to a lack of players.

Updated: October 7th 2021, 10:19 AM