Amazon Web Services (AWS) has launched new services, Lumberyard and Gamelift, to help developers create games and build communities of fans. By simplifying the infrastructure work it could help keep games developers loyal to its cloud services.

Amazon Lumberyard is a free, 3D game engine which developers can use to create games on any IT platform while using the computing and storage resources of the AWS Cloud. According to Amazon, Lumberyard’s visual scripting tool can open up the games development market because it allows non-technical game developers to add cloud-connected features to a game. It claims that features such as community news feeds, daily gifts or server-side combat resolution can be added in minutes through a drag-and-drop graphical user interface.

The other new AWS service, GameLift, aims to simplify the launch and operational management of session-based multiplayer games. Used in combination the two new services will make it easier for games developers to ramp up capacity to order as demand for high-performance game servers fluctuates. The services makes it easier for games developers to cater for fluctuating demand without the expense of additional engineering effort or upfront costs, says AWS.

Amazon Lumberyard is free and available today in beta for developers building PC and console games. A version for mobile and virtual reality (VR) platforms is ‘coming soon’ it says. GameLift is charged on a per-player basis, with fees currently $1.50 per 1,000 daily active users on top of the standard AWS services fees.

Developers typically need to bring 20 technology components to build the highest-quality games, according to Mike Frazzini, Amazon Games’s VP. The expense of resources such as real-time graphics rendering, animation systems and physics simulation make this a prohibitive and risky market to be in.

“Game developers asked for a game engine with the power of commercial engines but significantly less expensive and deeply integrated with AWS for the back,” said Frazzini. AWS now provides that with Lumberyard and GameLift, he said.

Developing and maintaining a back-end infrastructure for multiplayer games requires time, money and expertise that are beyond the reach of most developers, according to Chris Jones, Obsidian Entertainment’s CTO. “GameLift removes much of that burden from the developer, allowing them to focus their energy on bringing their game ideas to life,” said Jones.

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