Amazon’s Gaming Chief Christoph Hartmann Reveals Shifting Strategy in Leaked Memo

Amazon's games division has been hit with layoffs twice this year amid a strategic shift and CEO Andy Jassy's cost-cutting campaign.

An illustration of Amazon Games
Amazon’s gaming division has seen two rounds of layoffs this year. Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A leaked memo from Amazon (AMZN) gaming chief Christoph Hartmann reveals some of the tech giant’s shifting priorities in its video games business. Hartmann, the vice president of Amazon Games, sent a memo to employees yesterday (Nov. 14) saying the division would cut 180 jobs. The news followed an announcement last week that Amazon would eliminate an undisclosed number of positions at its music streaming service, Amazon Music. Both moves look like a continuation of CEO Andy Jassy’s cost reduction campaign, which has caused the removal of 20,000 jobs across Amazon this year.

Though 180 jobs represent a tiny portion in the grand scheme of Amazon, which has roughly 350,000 corporate employees, this is the second round of layoffs in Amazon’s games department this year. In April, 100 Amazon Games employees lost their jobs as part of Jassy’s initiative to cut 9,000 additional positions on top of the 18,000 announced in January.

In yesterday’s memo, first reported by The Verge, Hartmann explained the layoffs were a result of Amazon shutting down two of its gaming initiatives: Crown Channel on Amazon-owned Twitch and the games promotional sector Game Growth. He also said the company would start prioritizing Prime Gaming, which provides free games and game perks to Amazon Prime subscribers, as a more significant part of the Prime package.  

“We’ve listened to our customers and we know delivering free games every month is what they want most, so we are refining our Prime benefit to increase our focus there,” Hartmann said in the leaked email. 

Hartmann also noted the gaming division will focus on launching several projects, including Throne and Liberty, and licensing Tomb Raider, as well as collaborations with game developers Glowmade and Disruptive Games. 

Hartmann has been leading Amazon Games for five years. He is one of the founders of the major game publisher 2K Games, which develops popular sports gaming products like NBA2K.

Amazon is not the only major tech company changing its games strategy. Reuters reported today (Nov. 15) that ByteDance, the parent company of TikTok, is looking to sell its gaming studio Moonton Technology. ByteDance is reportedly meeting with buyers for the potential sale because Moonton isn’t performing the way the company hoped it would after acquiring it in 2021 for $4 billion. ByteDance also announced this month it would cut jobs in its virtual reality (V.R.) arm, Pico, due to a weak market for V.R.

Amazon’s Gaming Chief Christoph Hartmann Reveals Shifting Strategy in Leaked Memo