Amazon Game Studios loses San Diego head John Smedley

The departure of studio head John Smedley comes in the wake of Amazon Games San Diego developing and canceling numerous game projects before they released.

Bloomberg reports that John Smedley has departed the tech giant's game development studio in San Diego. Smedley was first hired to Amazon Games San Diego in 2017 as its studio head, and despite working on several projects over the years, the studio hasn't released a game of its own. 

Amazon's near decade-long game venture hasn't resulted in many game releases from its internal studios—the 2020 free-to-play shooter Crucible from its Seattle office was canceled a handful of months after launch. And as a whole, the company's game division has notably suffered from mismanagement and being unfamiliar with game development.

In an email to staff obtained by Bloomberg, Smedley wrote that "after a lot of thought, I’ve decided it’s time for me to try my hand at something new." A spokesperson for Amazon added that Smedley would remain on the San Diego team until it "is fully transitioned before he moves on."

Going forward, Andy Sites, who first joined Amazon in 2021, will operate as Amazon Games San Diego's studio head.

Outside of Amazon, Smedley's previous experience included operating as studio head for Star Wars Galaxies developer Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment). He stepped down from the studio in 2015 after a conflict with the hacker group known as Lizard Squad.

The leaving of Smedley comes following the news in late December 2022 that Amazon would be publishing the next installment of Crystal Dynamics' Tomb Raider franchise. And for Amazon more broadly, it follows the tech company's incoming layoffs of 18,000 jobs

Update: This post has been edited to clarify that Smedley was the studio head of Amazon Games' San Diego office, not the whole of Amazon Game Studios.

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