The co-founder of one of the oldest MMOs is leaving Amazon Games Studios after not shipping a game in 6 years

(Image credit: Verant)

The head of Amazon Games San Diego and ancient MMO Everquest co-founder, John Smedley, has announced he's parting ways with the company. 

"After a lot of thought, I've decided it's time for me to try my hand at something new," Smedley wrote in an email to staff seen by Bloomberg (opens in new tab) (thanks, VideoGamesChronicle (opens in new tab)). He has yet to reveal what he plans to do next. 

Smedley joined Amazon Games back in 2017 and had a hand in several projects, although none of these actually saw the light of day during his six years with the company. 

Before his stint at Amazon Games, Smedley was CEO of Pixelmage Games and, prior to that, was president of Sony Online Entertainment - later renamed Daybreak Game Company - from 2002 to 2015. During his 13 years at SOE, Smedley worked on games such as Star Wars Galaxies, Planetside, Free Realms, and H1Z1. He also happens to be the co-creator of one of the world's oldest MMOs, EverQuest.

Last year Amazon Games lost another high-profile exec when long-serving boss Michael Frazzini announced his departure (opens in new tab). Frazzini helped to build Amazon's games division which has struggled to find success. Breakaway, one of the first games unveiled by the company, was cancelled outright, and Crucible, its free-to-play hero shooter, was shut down shortly after launch. Its MMO New World initially fared better, with a concurrent player peak of 953k users on Steam - the seventh-highest ever recorded on the platform, but player numbers dramatically declined shortly afterwards. 

Amazon Games has also published a number of titles, including the 2019 MMO Lost Ark, developed by South Korean studio Smilegate. In December, the company announced a partnership with Crystal Dynamics that will see it publish the next Tomb Raider game, making Lara's upcoming adventure the company's "first single-player narrative title."

A new year means lots more great games to get excited about; check out our guide to new games 2023 (opens in new tab) to see what we're looking forward to the most. 

Anne-Marie Ostler
Freelance Writer

Originally from Ireland, I moved to the UK in 2014 to pursue a Games Journalism and PR degree at Staffordshire University. Following that, I've freelanced for GamesMaster, Games TM, Official PlayStation Magazine and, more recently, Play and GamesRadar+. My love of gaming sprang from successfully defeating that first Goomba in Super Mario Bros on the NES. These days, PlayStation is my jam. When not gaming or writing, I can usually be found scouring the internet for anything Tomb Raider related to add to my out of control memorabilia collection.