It’s safe to say that online and social features are an integral part of most major game releases in 2017. Such features are almost a prerequisite in the upper reaches of the mobile chart and whilst solo-focused experiences still have a place on PC and console, always-connected, F2P-inspired design has found its way onto these platforms through long-term successes like Overwatch and Destiny. In the past it was often the case that developers had to invest significant resources into building the technology and tools to manage live games in-house, but in recent years we have seen the emergence of exciting third party backend-as-a-service (BaaS) platforms.
For many, BaaS systems have become essential game development tools and so it’s not surprising to see Amazon get in on the action with the reported acquisition of BaaS platform GameSparks. Following on from its previous acquisitions of Twitch and Double Helix , a CryEngine deal and the release of the Amazon Lumberyard engine, the GameSparks purchase shows Amazon furthering its commitment to games. It also makes it clear just how important Amazon views cloud services in gaming, a sentiment echoed by Amazon Games VP Mike Frazinni in May when he spoke to Games Industry Biz.
Integration will be key as to how GameSparks fits into Amazon’s plans for gaming and the way the service compliments Lumberyard itself will be of paramount importance. Lumberyard is a free engine with a business model geared towards users utilising other paid services in conjunction with the free core offering. It’s entirely possible that GameSparks will be offered under similar terms and integrated with the engine alongside other tools such as Twitch and GameLift.
While there are no guarantees of success, it is clear Amazon are confident that the market for dedicated backend services is growing. GameSparks were one of the first BaaS platforms for games, originally launching back in 2013 and their acquisition by the world's largest Cloud provider is not only great news for them, but further validation that the Game BaaS sector is growing strongly. Our expectation is that in the coming months and years we will see a major shift away from in-house backend technologies towards the widespread adoption of built for purpose third party platforms, similar to the emergence and dominance of Unity 3D over proprietary game engines.
GameSparks identified the potential of Game BaaS early and have reaped the rewards, but there are also a number of alternative solutions that have recently emerged, including of course the excellent ChilliConnect - but of course we’re biased! We remain completely independent and keen to do business with developers of all shapes and sizes. You can find out more about our BaaS services and sign up for free here.