When it comes to gaming today, many people get their fix via a console of some sort (i.e. an Xbox One or PlayStation 4). However, there are gaming services are out there that are capable of streaming games directly without the need for expensive, high-end hardware sitting in your entertainment center. Microsoft apparently thinks that cloud gaming is the future to the extent that the company has announced an entirely new cloud gaming division.
Microsoft has been signaling for a while that it intended to bet big on cloud gaming with acquisitions of Havok back in 2015, Simplygon in 2017, and PlayFab earlier this year. The software giant has also been shuffling around executives to prepare for the cloud-based future with Phil Spencer as the head of gaming at Microsoft and Kareem Choudhry as the head of the new cloud gaming division.
“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud, says Choudhry, in an interview with The Verge. “Those were conversations that started happening last summer, and we really started creating the structure of the organization at the end of last year.”
Microsoft wants its cloud gaming division to lure in developers and publishers to use Redmond’s cloud services, and it has already worked to some extent. Ubisoft, for instance, is using Azure cloud services for PC, Xbox, and PS4 for games including Rainbow Six: Siege and its mobile game Black Desert. The latter game is using Azure virtual machines and databases.
Subscription services will play big in Microsoft’s cloud gaming future; it already has Xbox Game Pass and all first party games from the software giant are offered on the subscription service at launch.
Choudhry says that Microsoft is looking at ways of delivering games that would make them accessible to anyone on any platform. That would allow the Microsoft cloud service to get games to players on rival platforms like the PS4 and Switch (although we doubt that Sony would be receptive to such notions).
“We’re spending a lot of time thinking about that space,” explains Choudhry. The real make it or break it for Microsoft’s cloud gaming aspirations is whether they can lure in developers to make their top tier titles available. Microsoft will have to get this service right to get gamers and developers to bite.