Overnight, it was revealed (via TechCrunch) that Amazon has acquired Double Helix, the studio behind Killer Instinct on Xbox One (along with Silent Hill: Homecoming and others), casting doubt over some of its ongoing projects.

Amazon, believed to be planning an entry into the console market, issued a statement to TechCrunch stating that they had bought Double Helix “as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.”. Ongoing commitment? I wasn’t aware of any games that they’d previously delivered; a quick search unearths a single defense game. Of course, they also recently hired writer Eric Nylund, formally of Microsoft Game Studios (and responsible for three novels in the Halo universe), so the evidence certainly seems to be mounting that Amazon will soon be expanding their presence in the industry.

So what happens to Killer Instinct? Well, obviously Microsoft owns the IP, so they’ll have to find a new team to carry on with it. The story mode and final ‘season one’ character Fulgore are due to launch next month, so hopefully that work is all but completed. The plan has always been to follow up with a second season that will bring more characters and content (providing the game performed well, which it has), so will that now happen? According to Microsoft Game Studios boss-man Phil Spencer, Killer Instinct‘s future is safe.

The “internal KI team” includes Ken Lobb, designer of the original Killer Instinct and one of the main people behind the new instalment, so the game is most assuredly in good hands. But clearly this is not an ideal situation; Killer Instinct is an ongoing project, and taking away the core development team and having to replace them could damage the game going forward. However, it has clearly been a labour of love for the team, and I wouldn’t be surprised to learn somewhere down the line that a handful of DH staff moved to MGS to continue working on it. As yet, Microsoft hasn’t named a new team to take over development; whether it will simply be a small, unnamed internal team at MGS or a new studio built up around the existing internal team, only time will tell.

The Amazon acquisition also casts doubt on Double Helix’s in-development Strider reboot. The release date for the project was revealed only yesterday, though considering the date given is less than two weeks away it’s a fair assumption that the game is completed and Capcom (who own the Strider IP) will hopefully be able to release the game on time (February 18th for PlayStation 3 and 4, 19th for Xbox 360 and One).

We shall have to wait and see what Double Helix will be working on for Amazon (and indeed what Amazon themselves are working on), but considering the huge amount of fun I’ve had with Killer Instinct since its November release, I for one wish them success.

Advertisements