John Smedley, experienced executive and one of the creators of EverQuest, has stepped down as the head of Amazon Game Studios San Diego. He has been with the company for six years, but hasn’t shipped a single game.
Smedley announced his resignation in an email to staff, according to Bloomberg. “After a lot of thought, I’ve decided it’s time for me to try my hand at something new, the message reads.
Andy Sites, who previously served as principal publishing producer at Amazon Game Studios San Diego, will become the new studio head. He will help the team finish the production on an unannounced title.
Amazon established a development studio in San Diego in February 2017. That’s when John Smedley joined the team to work on an “ambitious new project that taps into the power of the AWS Cloud and Twitch.”
Despite a promising start, none of the games that were in the works at the studio were eventually released.
Prior to joining Amazon, Smedley was the CEO of the now-closed studio Pixelmage Games and also ran Sony Online Entertainment between 2002 and 2015. He is best known as one of the creators of MMORPG EverQuest.
Smedley’s resignation might be another sign of problems with Amazon’s gaming business. The company first launched Amazon Game Studios in 2013, but it is still struggling with a lack of successful released projects.
In 2020, it canceled free-to-play shooter Crucible shortly after its launch. Amazon seemed to find success with its premium MMORPG New World, which peaked at over 900k concurrent players on Steam but eventually lost most of its active user base.
In addition to developing its own projects, Amazon Games has started to publish third-party titles. It has already helped distribute Korean MMO Lost Ark and recently partnered with Crystal Dynamics for the next Tomb Raider game.