Remember back in 2015, when Crytek, the company behind the CryEngine that was used to power games such as FarCry and Crysis, was in financial issues? Then remember when Amazon approached Crytek and basically bailed them out with the sum of $50-$70 million dollars and all they wanted was to license the CryEngine? Well, now Amazon is showing what came out that today in the from of a new gaming engine, Lumberyard, which is a fork of the CryEngine.
Today Amazon has both announced and released a new, free game engine, Lumberyard, which offers deep integration with its Amazon Web Services server infrastructure to empower online play, and also with Twitch, its video game-focused streaming service.
That’s right — the engine, including its full source code, is completely free to download and use to make PC and console games. Amazon will not charge any kind of royalty or subscription fee.
Lumberyard is powerful and full-featured enough to develop triple-A, current-gen console games (and the company has signed official tools deals with Microsoft and Sony, so you can immediately build games for the Xbox One and PlayStation 4 with it.) Mobile support is coming down the road.
What’s interesting about this however id that the engine, while not just being free for anyone who wants to use it, but it’s deep hooks into Amazon’s Web Services. Meaning they’re using their AWS environment similar to how Microsoft is using or envisioned how the Xbox One would work with the “Cloud”. However an added plus on Amazon’s part is that their gaming engine and infrastructure will support PC PlayStation, Xbox One, iOS, Android, out of the box, with Mac and Linux support planned for later.
In fact, if you’re curious about what it can do, you can download the beta now at https://aws.amazon.com/lumberyard/downloads.
Lumberyard’s core engine technology is based on Crytek’s CryEngine. Amazon licensed the German studio’s engine and got “full, unencumbered access to the technology” to build upon, says Mike Frazzini, vice president of Amazon Games.
However, Lumberyard represents a branch of that tech, and the company is replacing or upgrading many of CryEngine’s systems. Future versions of CryEngine and Lumberyard will continue to diverge.
Developers at Amazon’s Seattle and Irvine, California game studios are making improvements directly to the engine, and a central Amazon tech team that has drawn staff with backgrounds in both AWS and game engine development oversees the engine’s progress.
At public beta launch, Lumberyard already has components that are not based on CryEngine. Aside from adding the AWS SDK to the engine — allowing for native C++ access to its services — Amazon has also brought in new low-latency networking code based on what Double Helix, the Southern California studio it acquired in 2014, developed for Xbox One fighting game Killer Instinct.
Hmm, first Double Helix, now their own gaming engine. Now all we need is for Amazon to announce their own console…wait a second, is that what they’re trying to do with the Amazon Fire TV?