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Amazon's Game Is So Bad It's Being Unreleased

Crucible, the new free-to-play team shooter developed by Amazon Game Studios and its subsidiary Relentless Studios, is off to a rough start to say the least. In fact, its first month was so bad that Amazon has taken the unprecedented step of sending it back into closed beta, effective as of July 1.


It's an extraordinary decision, but Relentless seems to be fully committed to it. The developer update does its best to show a team that's serious about taking community feedback and working to improve Crucible. Developer Colin Johanson's statement outlined a couple of major steps his team will be taking during this second closed beta. 

First, the studio will be setting aside time each week for developers to play Crucible alongside regular players. The statement doesn't go into detail about when those times will be, or how much time each week will be devoted to it, but it does say Relentless will be asking for feedback while playing. 

Second, the team is forming what Johanson terms a "community council" of beta testers. Users ranging from casual to competitive will be brought together to work with the team from Relentless Studios, serving as a sort of microcosm of the player base as a whole.


The statement from Johanson says that current players shouldn't see much of a difference in their Crucible experience. Anyone who has the game already will still be able to play, and will keep any progress and unlockable content they've already gotten. Johanson encouraged anyone who's interested to pick up the game now before the new round of beta testing starts, though he also promises that it won't be long before signups open again.

For a released game to be, in essence, un-released is nearly unheard of. Kotaku's Jason Schreier took to Twitter to share his astonishment at this turn of events. The only similar story his followers could think of was Final Fantasy 14, which was taken offline in 2012 and re-released in 2013 as A Realm Reborn. That actually ended up being a great decision by Square Enix, as A Realm Reborn is widely considered one of the best online RPGs on the market today. It's not yet clear whether Relentless Studios can pull off a similar redemption for Crucible, but it seems like Johanson and his team are determined to try.

But you may be wondering — how did we get to this point in the first place? In short, this happened because Crucible was a complete flop.

The problems began before it even launched, where a lack of advertising left some gamers not knowing the game had even come out. It's a weird problem for a studio backed by Amazon megabucks to run into, but it was only the first step on the road to un-release.


Crucible also seems to have been suffering from a bit of an identity crisis. There used to be three different game modes available, which are described in detail in Tony Polanco's PCMag review. But according to Polanco, none of the three were particularly good. He concluded that the game was trying too hard to appeal to a broad audience, and failed to set itself apart from its competitors.

Crucible reportedly suffered from some pretty brutal optimization issues, too. Many of the user reviews on Metacritic, where it's currently sitting at a lackluster 56 critic score and a painful 4.3 user score, complain about poor frame rates, even on machines that can handle similar games on the highest settings. On top of that, it had what could only be described as Fallout 76-esque server problems: user Kinglygaming's Metacritic review included a since-deleted 21-minute YouTube compilation of himself trying and failing to get into a match.

Given that the game was once touted as a serious competitor to Fortnite, it's safe to say that Crucible hasn't lived up to expectations. Part of the problem may be confusion over what exactly Crucible was doing in terms of its release. Before being pulled off the market, the game was in "pre-season." Johanson, in another developer log on YouTube, said that the plan had always been for major changes to be made during this pre-season period. But as Eurogamer points out, that would make Crucible's pre-season basically the same thing as an early access period. Why, then, would Relentless not just put an early access tag on it so players knew what they were getting into? From pre-launch to present, Crucible has seemingly suffered from some questionable marketing decisions.


Relentless's first response to the negative backlash was to pull all but the League of Legends-style Heart of the Hive mode, so the devs could focus on improving just that one aspect of the game. According to Johanson, that was by far the most popular mode, and the hope was that his team could polish it into something that recaptured people's attention.

It clearly wasn't enough, though. Player numbers continued to drop off, and that combined with optimization and server issues apparently prompted the extremely unusual decision to return Crucible to beta testing.

What happens next with this ambitious shooter remains to be seen. We'll keep an eye on Relentless Studios to see where it goes from here.