With a new console generation right around the corner, Microsoft is setting its sights higher than a traditional console war. Phil Spencer, head of gaming for Microsoft, recently told technology publication Protocol he doesnt view Sony and Nintendo as the companys primary competition going forward. Instead, Spencer sees the future of gaming being fought over cloud computing between companies like Google, Amazon, and of course, Microsoft.
When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward, said Spencer. Thats not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but weve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years.
The Azure that Spencer is referring to here is Microsofts cloud computing service. In the larger technology landscape, thousands of companies use Azure as part of their infrastructure and for their own cloud products. However, in the gaming space, Azure is the backbone for Xboxs Project xCloud feature. Project xCloud allows players to stream Xbox games directly from the cloud onto mobile phones or tablets. Spencer seems to see this as the key to the future for company going forward, rather than the direct console competition that has happened in past generations.
I dont want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to seven billion people around the world. Ultimately, thats the goal, Spencer said.
According to Protocol, Spencer mentioned Microsoft is willing to cooperate with Nintendo and Sony on initiatives like allowing gamers on the various companies systems to play with and against one another.
As for the competition Spencer does name, Google and Amazon, both technology companies have massive cloud computing infrastructures already in place, and are in various stages of rolling out gaming components for those services.
For Google, its Stadia platform was launched on Nov. 19, 2019 and allows players to stream games to to their computers, as well as select Android phones. Amazons cloud gaming service remains largely a mystery. There have been rumors the company is working on something cloud-gaming related, and even rumors that it could launch sometime this year, but nothing is official yet.
At the moment, Microsofts service is still in preview and is only available on Android devices, with PC support set to come sometime this year. In the future, Project xCloud is likely to be available on a wider variety of devices, especially with Spencer setting his goal at getting games in the hands of seven billion people.