In the last couple of days Amazon announced Lumberyard, a 3D game engine designed to operate on AWS and provide a powerful platform for developers to leverage the power of the cloud.
Based on Crytek’s CryEngine it’s designed to execute the types of large workloads that are required to meet the needs of today’s games as they become more sophisticated to satisfy the growing expectations of modern gamers. Twitch integration is also supported (including ChatPlay and JoinIn) and mobile support will soon arrive.
It’s completely free and developers only pay for the AWS services required to run it. It’s an obvious, but smart, move from Amazon and will likely put pressure on the likes of Unity.
Additionally Amazon have launched GameLift, a service that focuses squarely on deploying, operating and scaling session-based multi-player games.
It’s no coincidence that these two new services integrate gracefully and tightly. It would be hard to deny that AWS has deliberately provided the free software, with the knowledge that users will quickly need somewhere to host their environments and that GameLift provides the perfect solution, being the only server technology natively supported by the engine.
What does this all mean for Amazon Web Services though?
Traditionally we’ve seen AWS operate as a cluster of fairly “agnostic” products – EC2s, S3s, Redshift, Lambda et al. Really, you could run any software configuration you wanted to on top of these individual parts, a developer was never especially constrained. The drawback to this though, is that any given stack isn’t naturally optimized for a particular usage. The onus has always been on the developer to engineer the best possible solution within his or her own constraints.
Whilst this can be extremely liberating, it often requires hours of technical development to achieve the best outcome and a deep technical knowledge of hardware and how it might be best configured for a particular niche. Amazon has flipped this model on its head, developers are now able to spin up full environments quickly with the comfortable knowledge that Amazon has thrown the full extent of its expertise at the optimal configuration for gaming.
Most interestingly, this isn’t the only vertical that AWS is now catering for. It’s just the latest in a catalogue of moves that they have made into providing specific configurations for growing use cases. At the end of 2016, they announced AWS IoT, a platform designed precisely to cater to the high-growth connected device market, known as “The Internet of Things”. Amazon also launched WorkMail, an email and calendar service that plugs into the standard web and desktop applications.
Realistically, it feels like we’re just beginning to see dedicated environment infrastructures from Amazon. Developers will continue to enjoy the freedom to build in any way they wish using the breadth of Amazon Web Services. However, more and more it looks as though AWS will provide specific stacks for specific use-cases, cementing their position as the go-to provider for cloud infrastructure across the board with the added appeal of thoughtfully implemented services for a growing number of verticals.