John Smedley is leaving Amazon Game Studios. John has a long history in the MMORPG community and people either hate him or love him. My own feelings are mixed; he was there for a lot my favorites but was also there driving some of them into the ground before failing on some promising prospects. He also failed to bring anything new to market in recent years; even when he had opportunity with projects like Everquest Next.
Many felt that John would be the savior of MMORPGs when he joined Amazon Game Studios (AGS) and it was revealed that he was leading the team building a future sci-fi massively multiplayer game (not clear how RPG it was going to be). Now with John leaving AGS what does that mean for the MMO community?
As noted in the article I linked the game Smedley was working on was reaffirmed to still be in development. Also based on other games AGS is getting involved in, such as Blue Protocol, it seems AGS is all-in on MMO games.
The Bloomberg article that broke the Smedley news is a little more doom and gloom.
"Another veteran executive is leaving Amazon.com Inc.’s video game division, which has struggled to produce big hits since it launched a decade ago."It is hard to argue the big hits point, but that is ignoring that AGS have been on an upswing. New World was a successful launch and continues to go up and down as it pushes content out the door. AGS brought Lost Ark to the west, which has been a smashing success, and they are also involved with Blue Protocol which is getting buzz.
Maybe Smedley wasn't the savior of the MMO community and it is actually AGS? Was Smedley not getting the job done? I'd argue he has a lot of dead prospects on the most recent road behind him (killed Star Wars Galaxies, failed with Everquest Next, multiple other SOE/Daybreak failures, failed kickstarter project) so not impossible he was failing with anew project.
Or maybe Smedley is done with big corporate? While SOE and Daybreak were not Amazon big they were still corporate. I take Smedley's attempt at a crowd funded game (Hero's Song) to be indicative he wants the smaller scale and more intimate game development that an indie kickstarter offers. It wouldn't surprise me if the only reason he moved on from Hero's Song is because AGS came in with a big paycheck and a sales pitch that they were here to save MMOs and they needed the legend himself to do it (if it were me that would probably be enough of a reason).
Will be curious to see his next move. My history in MMOs is as much Smedley's at this point.