Amazon launches Lumberyard, a free-to-use game development engine for PC and consoles

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Amazon has been trying to break into the video game industry for years. First with their Fire Tablet, and then later with the Fire TV and the formation of Amazon Game Studios. But today the web retailer is going one step further with the launch of Lumberyard, a free-to-use 3D game engine that will attempt to compete with Unreal Engine 4 and Unity. Amazon also gave the green light to GameLift today, a paid service that offers assistance with “deploying, operating, and scaling session-based multiplayer games.”

Lumberyard is currently compatible with PC and console game development, and Amazon hopes to add support for mobile games and virtual reality experiences in a future update. In addition to a development environment that includes easy access to Amazon Web Services, the engine will be closely integrated with Twitch, the world-famous game streaming service that also happens to be owned by Amazon.

Some of Lumberyard’s other features include:

Create the Highest-Quality Games — Amazon Lumberyard helps developers build rich, engaging, world-class games—from a full-featured editor, to native code performance and stunning visuals, and hundreds of other features like performant networking, cloth physics, character and animation editors, particle editor, UI editor, audio tools, weather effects, vehicle systems, flocking AI, perception handling, camera frameworks, path finding, and more. Developers also have full access to Amazon Lumberyard source code, making it easy to customize the technology to create differentiated gameplay.

Build Live, Online Features in Minutes — Live, online games enjoy higher engagement and retention than offline games. Amazon Lumberyard’s visual scripting tool, with its drag-and-drop graphical user interface, makes it easy to build connected game features that access AWS, such as DynamoDB, Lambda, and S3. In minutes, game designers can create features such as granting a daily gift or sending in-game notifications without having to write a single line of code. Amazon Lumberyard also comes integrated with AWS’s C++ SDK to provide developers access to dozens of AWS services through native C++ code, the most common language used to make games.

Reach and Engage Fans on Twitch — Amazon Lumberyard is integrated with Twitch so that developers can build gameplay features that engage the more than 1.7 million monthly broadcasters, and more than 100 million monthly viewers on Twitch. With Amazon Lumberyard’s Twitch ChatPlay, developers can use a drag-and-drop visual scripting interface to create gameplay features that let Twitch viewers use chat to directly impact the game they are watching in real-time. For example, with Twitch ChatPlay within Amazon Lumberyard, a developer could build a game that lets viewers on Twitch control a character or vote on game outcomes using chat commands like “up,” “down,” “live,” or “die.” And, the Twitch JoinIn feature within Amazon Lumberyard helps developers build games that allow Twitch broadcasters to instantly invite their live audiences to join them side-by-side in the game, with a single click, while others continue to watch.

More information about Lumberyard and GameLift can be found at Amazon.com.

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John Scalzo is Warp Zoned's Editor-In-Chief and resident retro gaming expert. You can follow him on Twitter or email him at john AT warpzoned DOT com.

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