Less than two months after the formal launch of Amazon Games’ first major PC game on Steam, Crucible, the company has chosen to yank it right out of Steam’s store. Its developers at Relentless Studios (a wholly owned Amazon subsidiary) have announced plans to delist the free-to-play action-MOBA game from Steam starting tomorrow, July 1, while continuing to operate the game as a “closed beta” for anyone who already downloaded the game (or paid for one of its “founders packs” of cosmetic DLC).
In an announcement on the game’s official site, its developers describe this change as a way to “help us focus on providing the best possible experience for our players.” As far as remaining players go, however, that assurance may ring a bit hollow, since its delisting will likely reduce the available player pool from its already minuscule population (as of press time, it’s only had more than 200 concurrent players once over the past week).
Although the game will continue to launch through Steam, starting at 12pm on July 1, new players will no longer be able to search for the game and freely download its client. Instead, they’ll have to sign up to play the game at the official site, where they will wait for a closed-beta invite. (If you think you’ll want to play the game eventually and want to save yourself some headaches, head to Crucible‘s Steam listing and add it to your library right now.)
Another action-MOBA bites the dust?
Arguably, this move is less about helping the game’s developers alter and upgrade the game’s contents and more about changing the way outsiders view its tiny player population. Relentless Studios, the wholly owned Amazon subsidiary responsible for the game, was already able to make drastic changes to the Crucible client in the past month, particularly by removing an entire game mode in order to better focus its remaining player population.
Amazon Games’ inexperience with the games-as-a-service sector was already a worrying issue when Crucible launched in mid-May. It’s still unclear why the company chose to launch the game to the public in a wide-open, “1.0” state in May as opposed to testing the waters of public perception with invite-only beta tests or a soft, “early access” launch. (The reasoning didn’t seem to be entirely about making money via microtransactions, as all players who signed up over the past month were given roughly $10 of free credits for joining the game’s launch period.) That kind of sudden rush to market was doubly weird in the case of this game’s “action-MOBA” genre, since other major forays into that gameplay model, particularly Epic’s Paragon and Gearbox’s Battleborn, had so loudly crashed-and-burned.
While Relentless has offered insight into its plans for updating and developing the game over time, the studio still hasn’t committed to adding built-in text chat—a serious oversight for a game that cannot be won without coordinated strategies—or systems to deal with rage-quitters, so that dedicated players don’t get punished for sticking to unwinnable 3v4 or 2v4 matches. (The only consolation as of press time is a mild boost for lopsided teams and a somewhat new “surrender” option.)
Also, since Relentless is taking this game back behind a curtain for tinkering, I’ll add one small request: change the name of the game before you relaunch. “Crucible” has long been established as the mode name for Destiny and Destiny 2‘s versus modes.