Talking tech since 2003

Mega-retailer Amazon has purchased Irvine, California-based game developer Double Helix Games, the company confirmed today. The news broke hours ago, as reported in a post on GameInformer. The acquisition adds further credence to rumors that the company is working on an Android-based video game console.

Amazon’s statement regarding the purchase is pretty sparse, of course, leaving plenty of room for them to not confirm the real reasons behind the buy:

“Amazon has acquired Double Helix as part of our ongoing commitment to build innovative games for customers.”

The post says that the acquisition includes “the sudio, all of its employees, and intellectual properties owned by Double Helix.” What intellectual properties those might be are kind of a mystery, however, as the developer has made its bones working on other company’s IPs. The one game I played that the developer made was Battleship, an adaptation of the movie, which of course was based on the board game (and which was itself based on a pencil-and-paper-game…but I digress).

Before that, Double Helix developed games based on DC Comics’ Green Lantern and Justice League properties, G.I. Joe, an installment in Konami’s Silent Hill franchise, an installment in Square Enix’s Front Mission series, and most recently developed the Xbox One-exclusive Killer Instinct remake, an IP Microsoft acquired when it purchased Rare back in 2002. Its next release is a remake of Capcom’s Strider. My point is that if Double Helix owns any intellectual properties, they sure haven’t bothered making any games based on them. But Double Helix has an IP that’s of particular value to Amazon—more on that in a second.

In all, the acquisition is still something of a big get for Amazon if it truly is entering the video game market—outside of selling apps in its Amazon App Store for Android devices. Double Helix’s work on Killer Instinct has elevated what was formerly a lower-tier developer working on licensed games into a much more important player in the game development world—especially considering how Microsoft positioned Killer Instinct as a system seller for the Xbox One.

So what about Double Helix’s IP? I suspect that the developer had already started working on an original, exclusive game for Amazon’s console. And Amazon isn’t the kind of company that wouldn’t lock down an IP that’s going to generate revenue on its own hardware. Amazon is all about keeping customers in its ecosystem—owning Double Helix if, in fact, it has made a game featuring an original IP, will ensure that all the money goes back to Bezos.

Is this all speculative? You bet! But that’s what makes sense to me. I have a feeling I’m on the right track—because if I’m not, then this acquisition is mostly just a mystery to me. If nothing else, get ready for Amazon to officially and finally confirm its video game console any day now.

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