Amazon gets in on gaming with Lumberyard, a free engine to rival Unreal and Unity

Over the past few years, Amazon has been acquiring a number of companies and technologies relating to video games. In 2014 the company acquired both Killer Instinct developer Helix Games and game live-streaming service Twitch. Now the reasoning behind that seems to make much more sense, as the company has revealed its own game engine designed to compete with Unreal Engine and Unity.

The engine, dubbed Amazon Lumberyard, was announced today by Amazon Web Services (AWS) and is available to developers for free. In addition to the standard features of a 3D game engine, it also features built-in Twitch integration. Alongside Lumberyard, the company also announced GameLift, a service to help developers scale servers for multiplayer games up and down depending on how many people are playing at a given time.

“When we’ve talked to game developers, they’ve asked for a game engine with the power and capability of leading commercial engines, but that’s significantly less expensive, and deeply integrated with AWS for the back-end and Twitch for the gamer community,” said the vice president of Amazon Games, Mike Frazzini, in a statement. “We’re excited to deliver that for our game developers today with the launch of Amazon Lumberyard and Amazon GameLift.”

The Twitch integration goes far beyond simply streaming gameplay. Lumberyard includes a feature called ChatPlay that allows developers to build features that let Twitch viewers directly impact the game they’re watching. Support for chat commands is included, which means that “Twitch Plays” game runs will be supported without any additional work on the part of those setting up the channels.

If you’ve ever wanted to hop into a game you’re watching, another feature of Lumberyard called Twitch Join will let you do just that. Assuming the developer builds support for the feature into the game, streamers will be able to invite viewers to join them in-game with one click.

lumberyard-pirate

If you’re wondering why Amazon would give this away, it’s similar to why Unreal Engine and Unity are both available for free. The difference here is that instead of collecting royalties or selling developers extra features, Amazon plans to make money using GameLift and AWS. GameLift costs $1.50 per 1,000 daily active users, and developers will have to pay the standard rate for AWS.

Still, this looks to be a promising tool for developers, with Amazon boasting that the tools included in Lumberyard allow developers to quickly create stunning worlds and characters. For studios focused on multiplayer or social games, the new engine could be the best place to start.

Amazon Lumberyard is currently available in beta for developers who are building games for both the PC and consoles. Mobile and VR platforms are both planned as well, and are currently listed as “coming soon.” For more information, see the Lumberyard website.

Product Review

Amazon's new Echo is smaller and cheaper; firmware upgrade improves sound

The all-new Echo is shorter, cuter, and comes with several different color and fabric choices. Our Amazon Echo review reveals that while the acoustics initially weren't great upon release, a firmware upgrade has improved the sound.
Movies & TV

'Prime'-time TV: Here are the best shows on Amazon Prime right now

There's more to Amazon Prime than free two-day shipping, including access to a number of phenomenal shows at no extra cost. To make the sifting easier, here are our favorite shows currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
Movies & TV

Disney+ streaming service gets a new name, logo, and more confirmed content

Disney is bringing the full weight of its massive content library to its own streaming service in 2019. How will Disney+ compare to Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime? Here's what we know so far.
Smart Home

Schlage and Amazon lock up a partnership with devices enabled by Alexa

Schlage has been escalating its integration with Amazon's Alexa and is taken this project to the next level with its latest product, the Schlage Connect Smart Deadbolt, which integrates with the Amazon Key app.
Computing

Changing file associations in Windows 10 is quick and easy with these steps

Learning how to change file associations can make editing certain file types much quicker than manually selecting your preferred application every time you open them. Just follow these short steps and you'll be on your way in no time.
Emerging Tech

New simulation shows how Elon Musk’s internet satellite network might work

Elon Musk has the dream of building a network for conveying internet traffic via thousands of satellites. A new simulation created by a computer scientist looks at how feasible the idea is.
Computing

A dead pixel doesn't mean a dead display. Here's how to repair it

Dead pixel got you down? We don't blame you. Check out our guide on how to fix a dead pixel and save yourself that costly screen replacement, or an unwanted trip to your local repair shop.
Computing

Great PC speakers don't need to break the bank. These are our favorites

Not sure which PC speakers work best with your computer? Here are the best computer speakers on the market, whether you're working with a tight budget or looking to rattle your workstation with top-of-the-line audio components.
Computing

Printing to PDF in Windows is easy, no matter which method you use

Microsoft's latest operating system makes it easier than ever to print to PDF in Windows, but there are alternative methods for doing so, even if you want to forgo Adobe Acrobat. Here's how.
Computing

These are the 5 best free antivirus apps to protect your MacBook

Malware protection is more important than ever, even if you eschew Windows in favor of Apple's desktop platform. Thankfully, protecting your machine is as easy as picking from the best free antivirus apps for Mac suites.
Computing

These laptop bags will keep your notebook secure wherever you go

Choosing the right laptop bag is no easy feat -- after all, no one likes to second-guess themselves. Here are some of the best laptop bags on the market, from backpacks to sleeves, so you can get it right the first time around.
Computing

These Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts will update your OG Windows skills

Windows 10 has many new features, and they come flanked with useful new keyboard shortcuts. Check out some of the new Windows 10 keyboard shortcuts to improve your user experience.
Computing

Protecting your PDF with a password isn't difficult. Just follow these steps

If you need to learn how to password protect a PDF, you have come to the right place. This guide will walk you through the process of protecting your documents step-by-step, whether you're running a MacOS or Windows machine.
Computing

Don't know what to do with all your old DVDs? Here's how to convert them to MP4

Given today's rapid technological advancements, physical discs are quickly becoming a thing of the past. Check out our guide on how to convert a DVD to MP4, so you can ditch discs for digital files.