Amazon confirmed on Thursday that it has acquired Double Helix Games, the studio responsible for Xbox One's Killer Instinct and the upcoming Stryder reboot. The financial details are unknown at this point, but the online e-tailer confirmed that both the talent and IP are part of the acquisition. The news stems from a leaked invitation to a joint Amazon-Double Helix recruiting event taking place in Los Angeles next Thursday.
News of the acquisition conveniently arrives after sources said last week that owners of Amazon's upcoming set-top-box, possibly called Firetube, will allow users to download music, movies and TV shows to the device. Presumably the device will use the Fire OS 3.0 "Mojito" platform, a forked version of Android that's used on the latest Kindle Fire tablets. Thus customers can download and install their favorite games through the App Store.
Back in October, there was talk that Amazon was courting developers to create exclusive games, or to tailor their current titles for the Android media device. Rumor has it that there will be a controller that ships with the unit, but sources indicated that customers will also be able to use their tablets and smartphones as well, whether it's within games or for using them as a remote control (think Chromecast).
Amazon actually has its own game studio prior to the recent acquisition, which has produced only two games thus far: the Living Classics social game, and Air Patriots for iOS, Android and Kindle Fire. Amazon also scooped up Eric Nylund, a former lead on Microsoft Studios' narrative team and an author of several Halo novels including Halo: The Fall of Reach.
"I can't talk about specifics, but I wouldn't be there unless something cool was brewing," he wrote back in August 2013.
In addition to gaming, Amazon looks to be stocking its set-top-box with loads of original content. The company introduced on Thursday ten new TV pilots. These follow the pilot program from last year that eventually produced, after votes by Amazon customers, the Garry Trudeau series Alpha House, tech comedy Betas and the soon to premiere kids series Creative Galaxy, Tumble Leaf and Annedroids.
This year Amazon is offering up ten pilot episodes to vote on, including one called The After from X-Files creator Chris Carter. The pilot lineup also includes Eric Overmyer (The Wire, Treme), Michael Connelly (Harry Bosch), Roman Coppola (Moonrise Kingdom), actor and musician Jason Schwartzman (Saving Mr. Banks) and more.
You can't help but smell something baking in the Amazon oven. Original content. Original games. An "original" operating system based on Android. Rumors of a set-top-box with its own controller. The acquisition of a developer with 20 years of experience (Shiny Entertainment, The Collective). Something big is definitely going on.
Honestly, the set-top-box's rumored $300 price tag points to a Nintendo Wii U competitor. Or possibly something between that and Nvidia's Shield handheld console. Whatever the outcome, that something looks to be a media hub as well, a box of entertainment that Amazon will happily cram its original content into. The device will supposedly have a Qualcomm Snapdragon chip, so there's no need in comparing it to the current and past Xbox and PlayStation consoles. Okay, maybe a little.
We've reached out to Amazon to get a comment on the story.