Alf Tan currently serves as head of games business development for Amazon. Prior to joining Amazon’s game team, he worked for Microsoft Game Studios and Microsoft’s Xbox team. His goals at Amazon are to make Amazon a great platform for developers to publish their games on and for customers to buy their games from. In the interview below, Alf talks about Amazon’s culture, how the company views developers and gamers as its customers, his favorite movie, and more.
What can attendees expect from your D.I.C.E. Europe session?
For my talk at D.I.C.E. Europe, you can expect insights into how Amazon’s customer obsession translates into engaging gamers and developers. As just one example, we’ll dig into the high value customers who spend in our store and how we’re constantly working with developers to find new ways to engage our customers to deliver a great return on investment.
What do you most enjoy about your role at Amazon?
Amazon has an amazing culture, one that lives up to its tag line of working hard, having fun and making history. Most importantly, I love our leadership principles, and how each and every Amazonian embraces and practices them. Every day I have fun working with developers of all sizes, from the largest to the smallest, to find solutions for them to reach our customers and to increase their ROI, despite their difference in sizes.
How have you seen the gaming industry evolve?
I have seen the gaming industry evolve a ton over the last five years with the emergence of mobile gaming. We now see smaller studios able to compete with the biggest guys. Now, a couple of guys in a garage can create a hit game, like they used to be able to do in the old PC days. I see a resurgence of this grassroots effort with mobile that evens the playing field.
Amazon appears to be moving aggressively with developers, how will the company’s approach to engaging players be similarly aggressive?
We see developers and gamers as customers, and will relentlessly drive hard to deliver what both want. One of the core areas we are focused on is the set top box space to deliver a great gaming experience. Today, many customers have to find gaming experiences in their living rooms through a $300 console. We see an opportunity to deliver great games to customers at a vastly different price point. We have done that through providing fun and challenging gaming experiences on Fire TV with launches like Flappy Bird Family, Crossy Road, some of our own games like Sev Zero, and new experiences like GameFly Streaming.
What are the advantages of Amazon having its very own “walled garden” for gaming?
We don’t see our platform as a walled garden, in fact, it’s just Android. Over 75% of the apps tested on our platform just work, with little to no additional development, and we hear feedback from developers all the time about the close working relationship they enjoy with Amazon. We now have over 700 games available on Fire TV alone and the catalog of content a customer can choose from grows every day.
Are there any independent developers you’ve worked with at Amazon that you’ve found particularly inspiring?
They are all inspiring. What I think is so cool is that prior to a few years ago, you had to invest millions of dollars to build a great game and get noticed, but now small development shops like those building Flappy Bird or Crossy Road are finding success and building awesome games that customers love.
What’s your favorite movie you’ve seen in the last year and why? How about favorite movie of all time?
Favorite movie of all time...Last of the Mohicans.
Are you more excited for or scared of the upcoming Star Wars movies?
Super excited. I think Disney is awesome and will be fun to add to this franchise. And I would love my kids to get into it, so we can have lightsaber fights.
Alf will be speaking at D.I.C.E. Europe 2015 in Barcelona September 13-15. Click here to learn more and register for the conference!