For the second time this year, Amazon Games puts a new title into hiding


Enlarge / An ominous explosion of a previous release window, as seen in this New World obelisk.

Amazon Games

After years of fumbling with game launches, mostly in the mobile and free-to-play sector, Amazon Game Studios seemed poised to make a splash in 2020 with two major new games with heavy online components. Today, that count drops back to zero.

New World, a fantasy MMO that revolves around colonizing a new continent, has seen its public launch pushed back from August 25 to “Spring 2021.” The news came in a Friday update at the game’s blog from studio director Richard Lawrence, who cited the current game’s lack of “middle and endgame experiences” as a reason for the multi-month delay.

Helping players “understand”

This delay means the studio’s original plans for a “closed beta” test, set to launch by “July 2020,” have been canceled; that test would have been available exclusively to paying pre-order customers. In a way, this is still happening: paying customers will still be allowed into the game’s “closed alpha” test on the original retail launch date of August 25, but only for a brief testing period. Lawrence didn’t clarify how long this testing period will last, but he did tell fans that such a test will help players “understand why we want to take the extra time to make this experience the best it can be at release.”

New World‘s June 2020 trailer, before its release date was adjusted.

In isolation, this week’s delay may seem standard-issue in the game industry, especially when luminaries like Shigeru Miyamoto are credited with quotes like, “A delayed game is eventually good, but a rushed game is forever bad.”

But Amazon Games is now 0-for-2 with game launches this year, as its May launch of the action-MOBA Crucible was summarily delisted from Steam less than two months after its public bow. That game continues to operate in a closed-beta, invite-only state, and it received a hearty update for its small population last week, complete with its first voice-chat feature—though the developers still haven’t announced plans to introduce text chat, a feature that is arguably better suited for the random online matchmaking inherent in MOBA games.

The fact that a brand-new MMO could get this close to launching without significant endgame content may seem surprising to fans of series like World of WarCraft. But this issue has plagued a few notable game-as-a-service launches in recent memory, particularly the first Destiny in 2014 and Anthem in 2019. BioWare fans are still waiting, by the way, for more updates on its overhaul plans for Anthem to bear fruit; the last we heard was a vague May announcement about slow progress on that front.



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