Tens of thousands of gaming, technology, music, and film enthusiasts flooded Austin last week for the 30th annual SXSW Festival. Louis Castle, new head of Amazon Game Studios Seattle, took the stage on the opening day of the SXSW Gaming Expo, with Patrick Plourde of Ubisoft and entertainment journalist Chris Morris, for a session called “Change or Die: The Risks of Trying Something New.”
Gamers aren’t shy about sharing their opinions—both enthusiastic praise and sharp critiques—and in today’s connected world, they have more direct access than ever before to the artists, designers, and developers behind their favorite games. At SXSW, Louis and Patrick talked about how player feedback affects the way they create games, and pushes them to innovate.
When players ask for certain gameplay mechanics or features, Louis said, it’s sometimes less about those specific features, and more about capturing the feeling of “freshness and excitement” that comes from playing a really great—and different—game.
Louis’ work on the Blade Runner game sticks in his mind as an example of how important it is to please customers, and he told the SXSW audience how the movie’s fans inspired and challenged his team during the game’s development.
“People would say, ‘don’t screw that up,’” he said. “And the game’s biggest success wasn’t critical acclaim—it was that fans of the franchise were so overwhelmingly supportive.”
That fan response to a game developed with them in mind at every step is part of what drives Louis, and during the SXSW panel, he said Amazon’s dedication to really listening to customers, and taking risks to give players the fresh and exciting experiences they crave, is what drew him to join Amazon Game Studios
A big thanks to all of you who joined us at SXSW—and if we didn’t catch you this time, keep an eye on this space to find out where you can meet Amazon Game Studios in the future.
If you want to join Louis and his team to think big and take risks at a game studio that aims to be earth’s most customer-centric, check out our current job listings: https://games.amazon.com/careers
Photograph by Samantha Burkardt