Amazon may be preparing a move into gaming after hiring away Microsoft's director of games platform strategy.
In a blog post on Tuesday, Andre Vrignaud wrote that he had mixed emotions about leaving Microsoft for Amazon. "I make this announcement with mixed emotions as I'm excited about where Microsoft is going in the next few years as they look to reinvent digital entertainment ... but I'm also obviously very intrigued about what Amazon is looking to do," he wrote.
Vrignaud did not reveal any details of what he'll be doing at Amazon but said that it would become evident soon and implied that he would continue his work in gaming.
Vrignaud has spent 20 years in the gaming industry, including eight at Microsoft, where he helped build Xbox Live. "Not many people remember now, but there was a time when even the idea of Xbox Live was extremely controversial," he wrote. Xbox Live, a subscription service that lets gamers play each other remotely, turned out to be very successful, with currently more than 25 million members.
Despite that success, there's been some turmoil in Microsoft's game group recently. Robbie Bach, who was the head of Microsoft's entertainment and devices division, left the company earlier this year, as did J. Allard, who was in charge of design and development in the same group. Those changes came just as Microsoft is about to launch Kinect, a new platform for controllerless gaming. In addition, Microsoft's Windows Phone 7 devices will soon go on sale, for the first time allowing people to play Xbox games against friends using their phones.
Amazon offers downloads of games developed by other companies on its site and also offers a couple of games for its Kindle e-reader. The Kindle has some limits to the kinds of games it can run because the display uses E Ink, which requires a brief delay to refresh the screen. Still, Amazon is offering a limited beta of a software development kit for developers interested in building games or other applications for the Kindle, indicating it believes there may be a market in Kindle apps and games.
Microsoft said it had no comment on Vrignaud's departure and Amazon did not reply to a request for comment.