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Amazon axes 180 workers in games divisions

Two divisions are shutting down — Crown Channel and Game Growth

A Visitor pass by the stand of amazon games at the 2023 Gamescom gaming fair on August 23, 2023 in Cologne, Germany. Gamescom is the world’s largest computer and video gaming fair and will run until August 27. —via getty Photo: Sascha Schuermann/Getty Images
Nicole Carpenter is a senior reporter specializing in investigative features about labor issues in the game industry, as well as the business and culture of games.

Amazon is laying off more than 180 people from two of its gaming divisions, the company confirmed to Polygon Monday. Days ago, Amazon laid off employees in its music streaming business. More than 27,000 people have been cut by Amazon over the past year, hundreds of whom were laid off from Twitch in March. Worker-owned gaming news site Aftermath first reported the news of Monday’s layoffs.

Crown Channel is an ad-supported Twitch channel that broadcasts original programming, like Potluck, a variety show hosted by a comedian and a Twitch streamer. Another show, Screen Invaders, included a Candy Crush Saga tournament. Though Amazon said its Crown Channel was one of Twitch’s top 10 entertainment offerings, a Bloomberg analysis suggested Amazon had inflated its views. Game Growth, the other program that was cut, was designed to “re-imagine how game creators promote their products across the globe,” according to the Amazon Games website.

Amazon Games vice president Christoph Hartmann sent a memo to staff Monday (which was also shared with Polygon by Amazon), saying that the company is “refocusing our efforts for Prime Gaming.” He continued: “We’ve listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there. With these changes in our business approach come changes to our resourcing, resulting in the elimination of just over 180 roles.”

An Amazon Games representative confirmed to Polygon that Monday’s layoffs were “in service of focusing efforts on making and publishing video games.” She added: “We will continue to support Prime Gaming as a benefit of Amazon Prime membership, but have refined that specific offering to focus on ‘Free Games with Prime.’”

Monday’s Amazon announcement comes during a troubling time for video game workers; each week it seems that more and more people are laid off from the industry. Last week, Wayfinder publisher Digital Extremes laid off staff, preceded by cuts at Bungie, Ubisoft, Epic Games, and many more.

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