Speaking to NME, Dewhurst reflected on his seven years working at Amazon.
“I learned a ton and my career did really amazing and awesome things, I met a lot of people and I got to work on a product that I loved a ton and I think could have been amazing. Also Amazon pays very well – so there’s a lot of things that are like that, that was a fine way for me to spend seven years of my life.”
However, Dewhurst claimed there were systematic issues within Amazon when he was working on Crucible, a sci-fi shooter that was cancelled in 2020. On the project, Dewhurst said “it’s pretty apparent in hindsight, and honestly was pretty apparent at the time, that [Crucible] was going to fail and Amazon is not a great place to make games.”
Dewhurst identified several issues with Amazon, and said that “fundamentally [Amazon’s] executive leadership has a lot of hubris that stems from having been very successful at a bunch of stuff and thinking that their success in those things translates to success in other things when they’re not remotely similar,” adding that “there’s just a bunch of all-hands where I can recall executives giving answers that at the time we’d look at as wildly incorrect.”
Citing the popularity of New World, Dewhurst stated that “maybe they’re growing out of that now,” but noted that during his time at Amazon there were “a lot of growing pains stemming from “I run ten-person engineering teams that make ecommerce tools, those lessons probably apply perfectly to making an Overwatch competitor.””
Beyond issues with hubris, Dewhurst shared that “one of the other things I really hated about Amazon that’s come to light…is their outside work policy is very draconian, which always really frustrated me.”
“Amazon has all of these leadership principles and I’ve been in lots of Amazon hiring loops, so they take them pretty seriously. One of them is hire [and] develop the best , which is supposed to be this concept of [making] sure that you’re getting the best people and then [making] sure that while they’re at Amazon they’re continuing to get better at what they do. For me, the games group was a tremendous failure in this. They were very good at hiring, we recruited a bunch of top people, the Crucible team had a wonderful culture – all that was great, but the outside work policy is wildly stifling because most of the people that you would consider the best by that metric are people who are constantly trying to grow, constantly trying to do better.”
“I was a senior systems designer on a 100-person team and because you were 100 per cent barred from doing any work on any sort of other project whatsoever,” explained Dewhurst.
“During my seven years there I was prohibited from learning anything about how to create art, or engineering, or production, or [allowed] to work on a smaller team, or a larger team, or in a different role. There’s all these experiences that make you a better game developer, and Amazon’s just like no – the version of you that we hired is all we would like you to be while you’re working here, which just seems antithetical.”
“When I was at Amazon and I was mad at them about this policy, it was all very abstract arguing with people. I would be better at my job if you would let me learn these things, then a bunch of executives [would] be like, why would learning things help you do your job?”
“Even if you remove the giant thing that is creative fulfilment, there are still so many reasons you should just let your employees work,” added Dewhurst.
“It was such a weird thing because they were like, “what if your stuff competes with my stuff?” You’re making 40million dollar AAA’s here, I just want to make a little physics simulation! And they’re like “no, what if the game you make…what if you know it’s going to be the next Minecraft and you’re not telling us because you could make it on the side?””
Dewhurst is currently working on Starlight Explorers, a physics-based puzzle game that hopes to encourage more young women to pursue an interest in STEM fields.