Amazon’s Plans for Social Games

Amazon’s Plans for Social Games

Online retailer Amazon has been showing signs of entering the social games market. Don’t everyone cheer at once, now.

This isn’t strictly new territory for Amazon. The company has been in the games market since 2008, when it purchased Reflexive Entertainment, the developers behind Big Kahuna and Airport Mania 2. As a corporation, Amazon has also been dabbling in digital game distribution, and even though its presence isn’t nearly as impressive as Steam’s, it still matches or beats Steam’s prices whenever possible.

And recently, Amazon hired RPG designer Jonathan Tweet to work on a social game for it. Tweet’s Resume includes the classic pen-and-paper role-playing games Dungeons & Dragons: 3rd Edition, and Atlas’s Ars Magica. He has also worked on Facebook games for Gamehouse.

No doubt Amazon is gearing up to make a dent in Zynga’s social games empire…but can a single game, even a game from an online business titan like Amazon, make that much of an impact? writer Steve Peterson brings up some good points in his own write-up of Amazon’s ambitions: Running into the fray with only one weapon isn’t a smart idea. Even the best gun can fail at a crucial time, and being caught without back-up can prove disastrous.

“[S]ocial game companies (such as Zynga) typically depend on having multiple game titles to cross-market to their customer base,” Peterson wrote. “When players get bored with one of their social games, they can entice them into another one. Current customers are the best prospective customers for other games you offer. Amazon should know that unless they plan to enter the social gaming market in a big way, with significant marketing and multiple games, they would be unlikely to have any great success.”

But, as Peterson also points out, Amazon’s plans for the social games market may well go beyond throwing a single contender into the ring. For instance, Amazon has the rights to 47 books by the famous crime writer, Ed McBain (real name: Evan Hunter). It’s also pushing to create its own App Store, and there’s the very possible arrival of an Amazon Android tablet in 2011, which could prove to be a nice vessel for a unique, “grown-up” take on a social game based on McBain’s works.

Whatever Amazon trots out still probably won’t be enough on its own to hobble Zynga. but it could potentially be more interesting for anyone who’s not taken by big-eyed farmers and city-builders.

About Nadia Oxford
Nadia is a freelance writer living in Toronto. She played her first game at four, decided games were awesome, and has maintained her position since. She writes for, Slide to Play, GamePro and other publications, and is’s Guide to the Nintendo DS.


  1. One thing that Amazon has going for it that has always been a huge hurtle to successful revenue-producing products is an existing relationship (meaning: they have your credit card on file) with their customers.

    I still am reluctant to give any payment info to Zynga mostly due to the fact that it requires me to confirm my need for Farm Bucks or whatever by physically getting out my wallet or keying in my PayPal information. Any Dave and Busters gamer will tell you that the best time to get a gamer to spend money is when they feel like they aren’t spending money.

    Think of what “one click” purchasing COULD do if Amazon finds a way to couple a good game with their awesome model. As an Amazon Prime member, I’m also looking for the built-in discount for AmBucks or whatever their currency will be called. 🙂

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