There are many wonderful things to be said about heading-up a game studio, but none rise to the level of revealing a new game. At TwitchCon, we had the privilege of revealing Breakaway, the first new title from Amazon Game Studios to be built from the start with broadcasters and the Twitch audience in mind.
The story of Breakaway goes all the way back to the acquisition of Double Helix by Amazon over two years ago. Developers who worked on Killer Instinct for Microsoft formed the kernel of the original team and were deeply influenced by the experience of watching Twitch broadcasters stream KI mere hours after the game was launched.
Today, we don’t think of ourselves so much as Double Helix. In addition to our DNA from Shiny, the Collective, Double Helix and Reflexive Entertainment, we’ve added amazingly talented new developers from Bungie, Riot, Blizzard, Turtle Rock and more. We’ve come together as a team in the context of Amazon’s intensive customer obsession, big thinking, and constant drive to invent new things. As we’ve grown, we took to thinking of ourselves as Amazon Game Studios Orange County, or AGS OC. Hi! Nice to meet you. This is our first game for Amazon, and we hope you love it as much as we do.
Throughout the amazing changes of the past two years, the Breakaway team has sustained their love for tournament viable gameplay, direct control and hair-on-fire intensity. For our new game, we resolved to add teamwork to that formula. And from the very first blank sheet of paper, the team thought about streaming.
Mind you, this was before Amazon acquired Twitch. Once Twitch, and more recently Curse, joined the Amazon family, the whole idea of designing for broadcast and viewership as well as gameplay became deeply ingrained in the sensibilities of the team.
As a result, we’re launching some new Twitch features with Breakaway. We’ve created tools that enable streamers to mine Breakaway for statistics, which they can integrate into broadcast overlays with Metastream. Since it’s more exciting and intense to play with spectators, we built out a suite of spectator cam and replay tools, as well as Broadcaster Spotlight, which tells viewers when they’re in a match that’s being streamed, and enables them to follow broadcasters from in-game. We love broadcaster brawls, so we customized our matchmaker to enable streamers to curate exclusive matches and events for their communities with Broadcaster Match Builder, and we’re inventing new ways to interact with viewers with polls and loyalty point wagering with Stream+.
All these features are just part of the story, though. The team made hundreds of design decisions in an effort to make Breakaway as fun to watch as to play. The game has epic goal-line struggles where victory can be snatched from the jaws of defeat, a variety of tactics and strategic approaches, and depth and mastery that enable expert players to become stars. Structuring the game around the Relic gives every match a clear focus, and the layout of the playfields is inspired by ancient Roman “cursus” and Aztec ball courts, where all the action is visible to all players, all the time. We looked at game pacing as well, moving away from the continuous flow of most MOBAs, hockey or soccer, and going with a play-based tempo—more akin to football—which enables huddles, strategic downtime, and broadcaster commentary. Even the name of the game comes from a thrilling moment where spectators know something amazing is about to happen.
Be sure to stop by our stream and let us know your thoughts on the game so far. We’re just getting started with the game, with more modes, characters and awesome locations coming soon. We think the game is special, but we can’t wait to hear your feedback on how to take it even further.