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Business of Esports TV: Open Source Amazon

(Livestream 139)

In this segment, we discuss Amazon moving to an open source gaming engine.

The Business Of Esports brings you news, debates, and all the information you need to know about the gaming sector, the world’s fastest-growing market. With Paul “The Profit” Dawalibi leading the charge, and a variety of special guests, BoE TV is the only place to find insider information on the esports industry!

Check out the full livestream here:

Paul Dawalibi 32:38
We’ve got some Amazon news, Amazon. The headline here from gamesbeat, Amazon shifts lumberyard to open source 3d game engines supported by 20 companies. So for those of you don’t know, lumberyard is Amazon’s game engine. They’re making it open source so they’re going to be offering it basically free to everyone both to develop and to use. And there are a lot of companies signed on basically to contribute to this open source project. In other words to help make the game engine better and more complete. Amazon obviously Adobe Huawei, Niantic Red Hat, among others. And and so I’m curious where you guys think, what kind of effect you guys think this may have on what has been up until now a very much a two horse race between Unity and Unreal from Epic.

Jimmy Mondal 34:57
Depends on how good and accessible it is right? Like how optimized how well optimized the engine is because unity and epic have the power that they can run on like potatoes. And that gives them universal accessibility almost. I think that is going to be the key thing that I’m looking for here. But looking at the history of Amazon Studios products, I don’t feel confident about that. That’s my initial look at it.

Paul Dawalibi 35:22
Keep in mind, guys, this engine, just to give you a little more color here, was not like this is this was Amazon’s creation, but it was originally licensed like the underpinning is is the Crytek engine or CryEngine. Know that. And so, like there is there are serious like, there are seriously solid underpinnings to this game engine. This is nothing to sneeze at. It’s not.

Jeff Cohen 35:49
My, my thought is that, you know, I don’t think game engines are that expensive, like the third party game engines I don’t think are a massive part of the cost of building a triple A game. Like if you think about it, the you know, what does it cost to have a unity seat license? Like, I think it’s, you know, per seat, like $100. You know, we’re not talking about a match that you’re paying a developer $150,000 a year you’re paying $100 for the creative license, or the seat license. Like, I think there is a bigger network effect than we realize, like, if you are a developer that has always used unity or always use unreal, it’s really hard to switch to lumberyard, right, like it’s a completely different system. I think that as a company, you wouldn’t switch just to save a little bit of money or because something was free. And if you’re a new student, so that means you’re probably going to get a free product, you’re probably not going to get newer studios were cost maybe matters more. But those people need to recruit talent, right? So if you’re starting a new studio from scratch, and you need to hire people, it’s going to be really hard to find people who are confident with using lumberyard. So why wouldn’t you just use unreal or unity because everyone already knows how to use those. So I think there’s an element of that where people, you know, it’s as if, if some a company wanted to hire you, and they’re like, we don’t use Microsoft Excel, we use XYZ product, I don’t even know what would be a competitor to excel but something that like nobody knew how to use, you’d be like, well, I’m probably not a good fit or good candidate,

William Collis 37:20
we use an abacus we use an abacus like you’re like, Well, you

Jeff Cohen 37:23
can’t you can’t use a computer when you work your you have to use your phone calculator to do all financial calculations. You’d be like, Well, you know,

Paul Dawalibi 37:31
I need you to draw me. It’s a good point, Jeff. Keep in mind, though, that I think this is why they’re making it open source, right, that not only can people use it freely, but also contribute to it freely, right? Whereas Unity and Unreal are very much walled gardens. They’re closed ecosystem. They’re closed products, right? Like if you’re, if you’re a big developer like Niantic, right, and unity doesn’t serve your purpose, for whatever reason, it has things that you’re constantly working around and having to develop around as opposed to fitting what you’re trying to make. Right, I can understand why they’d get on board with a lumberyard that’s open source where they can have an impact on the engine itself. Right, that they’re not just the customer.

Lindsay Poss 38:19
And so that’s kind of my question, because there is some big backers here. So do you all think that if this gets kind of used enough or adopted enough by maybe not the most major triple A studios, but enough I mean, I antics like not nothing to turn your nose up by like they, they have a very successful game. So I wonder if that will drive the price of Unity and Unreal down to eventually being they might not give up? Like they might not make it, you know, open source, but they certainly might be able to drive the price down or eventually give a free product. Is that something that you all think could happen with a third free open source competitor? Do you think the other two will eventually have to drop prices? If there’s enough pickup?

Paul Dawalibi 39:03
They will have to compete, I think on different in different ways, right? And I think there’s a great, there’s a very obvious analogy here, which is operating systems. And if you look at the server market, right, where people spend hundreds of millions, billions of dollars, sometimes to outfit data centers, right. The cost of Windows licenses to run on servers is miniscule compared to the cost of the huge hardware expenditure to Jeff’s point, right. But there’s a reason people use Linux. There’s a reason they put open source software there. Because usually, they’re also involved in the actual development of that open source software. So they’re user and they’re a contributor. And there are benefits to that. And I don’t think unity or unreal will ever be able to compete with that. And so they have to take a different path like it has to be maybe simpler to use or The benefits of the walled garden. That’s it.

William Collis 40:03
Yeah. Well, it’s the it’s the Hair Club for men model is what you’re describing, right? Like, for lack of a better word, right? You don’t think about like, I’m not just a customer? No idea, to be honest.

Lindsay Poss 40:14
That was the one where they had like the fancy Madison Avenue. Like is that we’re talking about? Well, yeah. Fancy offices? Yeah. Okay.

William Collis 40:23
Yeah, somebody’s got that reference. Yeah. No, we’re not gonna, we’re not gonna go there. But it is a long aside, but I think it sort of reflects what’s happening here. Yeah, I mean, to me, this smacks of the fact that, I don’t think they could get traction with this is it because to your point, no one’s going it. Like, they probably went to say, $200 to see. And they’re like, thanks. But all our programmers already know how to use something that’s $100 a seat, and they’re like ours. And what are you going to do at that point? You know, because you’re right, at that point, price isn’t really something you compete on, they could come in and say it’s at $5 a seat. And you could say 15 bucks not worth that. And then you’ll get Amazon in the billions of dollars they make. And you can look at charging $15 for this, which might make it compelling, just why not make it free at that point. So it essentially I also wonder how much this connects to AWS? Like, I wonder so much of this. Anytime Amazon does anything with a product, I always wonder is this just to promote AWS and I wouldn’t be surprised if the one core feature of lumberyard is deep AWS integration.

Jimmy Mondal 41:27
Yeah, that basically drives all this stuff back to AWS at the end of the day. And then you think about twitch integration, right? Like, what are there going to be in browser games based on this engine? Or some? Like, I don’t know, right? Like, I don’t know how that works. But you have to do you do have to think about those things for sure.

Paul Dawalibi 41:43
And this is mentioned in the article, but also, when you have something that’s open source, you can adapt it to many different environments, that that may be a closed, like a, you know, unreal or unity runs on phones, PC and console, right, like, but could you take lumberyard and adapt it maybe better for vehicle for example gaming, right like in car gaming and and it’s it’s much more customized for that or customizable because of the fact that it’s open source. And so

William Collis 42:15
this is the whole thing about you know, we were saying earlier that the publisher proprietary engines are going kind of by the wayside because it wasn’t worth maintaining. But the whole reason why publisher proprietary engine start is because oh, well, for this particular game we want to make we really wish lighting was handled differently. You know, this is a black and white game, we want to do lighting differently, or like oh, this is a you know, highly content context dependent game. So we really wish you know, like you could support any character set not just you know, like English, highly specific Yang accents,

Jimmy Mondal 42:47
but otherwise,

Paul Dawalibi 42:49
what my hot take on this guys is this will be Amazon’s most successful gaming product for the next 10 years. I think. I think this is going to cause a lot of headaches for Unity and Unreal and and I think if I’m a shareholder, especially at Unity where I don’t have fortnight, I am especially worried today because I think anytime you have open source solid technology, huge backers, obvious connections into things like AWS obvious support from existing developers like to me this is this is I I’d be very surprised if Amazon messes this up. Julian says anything can connect to AWS and Julian I mean, in this particular case, I think I mentioned it. Amazon Web Services is actually one of the 20 founding members of this project so that they’re intimately involved. And you could see how for a game developer that might be a huge benefit. Wade says I got the old school Hair Club for men reference William obviously I wasn’t a customer good sense of humor. Wait, I like I like that. Julian says first day of car gaming equals my last day. Julian not not if the cars are driving themselves right if that’s if future, then then we should be okay.

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