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Amazon launches a game studio

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Living Classics (Credit: Amazon)

For years, Amazon has been a looming figure in the video game industry. On Monday, it finally pulled the trigger.

The retail giant has launched a new division, called Amazon Game Studios, which will focus (initially, at least) on social games, though expect it to branch into other areas in the months and years to come.

The game 'Living Classics' will be the first effort from the studio. Amazon describes the Facebook title as a "moving object game" where a family of foxes wanders into a series of classic books. Players reunite the family by exploring the scenes. Early reviews of the game have been complimentary.

"We know that many Amazon customers enjoy playing games -- including free-to-play social games -- and thanks to Amazon's know-how, we believe we can deliver a great, accessible gaming experience that gamers and our customers can play any time," said the team.

While this week marks the official launch of Amazon's game making efforts, the company has dipped its toes in the development waters before. In 2008, the company purchased game developer Reflexive, putting out a pair of casual titles: The Great Tree and Matches & Matrimony: A Pride and Prejudice Tale.

Facebook is a logical step for the company, given the number of players there, but analysts expect it won't be long before Amazon starts making games for the customers it already has on the Kindle and Kindle Fire. And like Zynga before them, the company could prove to be a destination point for game makers who are looking for a new challenge.

"We believe this is a strong affirmation regarding the growth trajectory of the [gaming] category," said Edward Williams of BMO Capital Markets. "We expect Amazon to further penetrate the games category through its Kindle Fire tablet as well as through the development of a digital distribution platform in addition to being a direct creator of content. While Amazon's move, at the moment, is small -- we expect the company to be increasingly competitive in hiring development talent."

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