Microsoft has been heavily involved in the gaming industry for 15 years, since the launch of the Xbox. In 2018, the Xbox One brand is leading the company's ambitious plans in gaming. However, the future of Microsoft gaming does not lie entirely with Xbox. The company has launched a new cloud gaming division that suggests a wider scope of development.
Indeed, gaming is changing beyond recognition. Cloud gaming is allowing players to stream games and could eventually allow gaming without hardware. Server power will provide performance for users, arguably negating the need for a console or gaming PC.
Mixed and virtual reality will also play a part. Just this week, Google announced the ability for developers to create games in real-world environments through Google Maps. As for Microsoft, it has been more forward thinking than console rival Sony. The company wants to be at the forefront of innovation and to be an all-round gaming company.
To that end, the new cloud gaming business shows why Microsoft bought PlayFab and other cloud companies in recent years. The new division is helmed by Kareem Choudhry, who has previously worked in Outlook and Xbox. Choudhry spoke to the Verge and explained why Microsoft head of gaming, Phil Spencer, wanted a dedicated cloud business:
“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud”, says Choudhry. “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 the division to act as a magnet for developers to create games and services through Microsoft's cloud products. Driving devs to use Azure to underpin their cloud experience will be a core part of the cloud gaming division.
“We believe there is going to be 2 billion gamers in the world, and our goal is to reach every one of them,” explains Choudhry. “We're really pleased with the success that's happening [with Game Pass]. We continue to believe in user choice, and we also believe there's room in the industry for a gaming subscription and that's what we're going to build.”
Game Pass Potential
Spencer has previously called Game Pass a service that could become the Netflix of gaming. Game Pass was announced in February 2017 as a subscription-based service. It gives gamers unlimited access to over 100 games for $9.99 per month.
“I've looked at things like Netflix and HBO, where great content has been created because there's this subscription model. Shannon Loftis and I are thinking a lot about, well, could we put story-based games into the Xbox Game Pass business model because you have a subscription going? It would mean you wouldn't have to deliver the whole game in one month; you could develop and deliver the game as it goes.”