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Amazon’s Next CEO Says He’s Committed to Making Video Games

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(Bloomberg) -- One day before he was named the next chief executive officer of Amazon.com Inc., Andy Jassy reaffirmed his commitment to making video games while acknowledging the stark challenges the team has faced, according to an email to staff reviewed by Bloomberg.

Jassy expressed support for Mike Frazzini, the head of Amazon Game Studios and the subject of a Bloomberg profile last week examining the troubles the company has faced in gaming. The story was based on interviews with more than 30 current or former Amazon employees. Both executives sent emails to their staff this week referencing the article, saying the accounts were exaggerated but recognizing that they had made mistakes.

“Some businesses take off in the first year, and others take many years,” wrote Jassy, currently the head of Amazon’s cloud computing division and Frazzini’s boss. “Though we haven’t consistently succeeded yet in AGS, I believe we will if we hang in there.”

The pledge of support from Jassy takes on added importance now that Amazon has said he will succeed Jeff Bezos as CEO this summer. The company’s entry into video game creation in 2012 was originally ordered by Bezos, three people who worked with the founder have said. Since then, Amazon has spent billions of dollars, released two big-budget games—both of which flopped—and canceled many other projects. Its struggles reflect broader issues big tech companies have discovered when trying to break into gaming. On Monday, Google said it was shutting down its game development studios.

“Being successful right away is obviously less stressful, but when it takes longer, it’s often sweeter,” Jassy wrote in the email Monday. “I believe this team will get there if we stay focused on what matters most.” An Amazon spokeswoman didn’t immediately have a comment on the emails.

Jassy’s message came in response to an email Frazzini sent to his team. Frazzini addressed allegations reported by Bloomberg that the studios had cultivated a “bro culture,” alienated many women and drove them out of the company. “We have zero tolerance for this type of behavior, or anything less than a fully equitable and inclusive environment,” Frazzini wrote.

Frazzini had never made a video game before he was appointed head of Amazon’s studios, and that lack of experience was a frequent complaint from current and former employees who spoke to Bloomberg. “We’ve learned and improved a lot along the way, myself included, and we will continue to do so,” Frazzini wrote to his team. “Making great games is hard, and we’re not going to get everything right.”

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