The head of the Amazon Games Studios office in San Diego, John Smedley, is departing the company after six years. Smedley worked on various projects over that time, but none of them has been released.
According to a report from Bloomberg, Smedley announced his departure in a company-wide email. He said that, “After a lot of thought, I’ve decided it’s time for me to try my hand at something new.” The letter also states that Andy Sites will step in as studio head, while Smedley assists to smooth the transition. Smedley is best known for his work on MMOs such as Everquest and Star Wars Galaxies.
A statement from an Amazon representative to Bloomberg said, “John is a game industry legend, and we’re grateful for his contributions to Amazon Games over the past six years… [his team] remains focused on bringing their unannounced project to life. John is committed to staying on until the team is fully transitioned before he moves on to pursue something new.” Smedley’s departure coincides with widespread layoffs at Amazon.
Last year, GameSpot profiled the vice president of Amazon Games, Christoph Hartmann, in an article by Eddie Makuch. Smedley is among the subjects interviewed, and claimed that Hartmann helped turn Amazon Games into a proper gaming company with a publishing wing. He also shared a story about pitching three games to Hartmann, from which Hartman selected the strangest and most difficult of the bunch. Smedley said, “He picked the hardest one, but he also picked the one that is going to stand out from anything else out there because there is nothing like it. Seeing someone pick the hard one? That was like, ‘Wow.’ This one has something that really stands out about it, and he spotted that right away.”