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Microsoft eyes-up the cloud as its gaming future beyond Xbox

THE CLOUD is supposedly the future conduit of pretty much everything; storage, music, groceries, sex… umm … sandwiches. So it makes sense Microsoft is eyeing up the cloud for its gaming future beyond the Xbox.

To this end, Redmond is creating a gaming unit that will focus on getting games publishers and developers to tap into the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure platform, to bring about a future where games tap into cloud-powered features and can be easily accessed and streamed.

“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud”, said Kareem Choudhry, who’ll head up Microsoft’s cloud gaming division, in an interview with The Verge.

“Those were conversations that started happening last summer, and we really started creating the structure of the organisation at the end of last year.”

There are already plenty of services that use cloud platforms to deliver additional game content through subscriptions and memberships; EA’s Origin, for example. And Microsoft sees this as an area to grow into, particularly when it has the second largest cloud infrastructure in the world which already supports its Xbox Live services.

The likes of Ubisoft already make use of the Azure cloud to support features in its Rainbow Six: Siege game. And Microsoft has Xbox Game Pass, a cloud-powered subscription service that allows members to stream games to their Xbox One, which is expanding by launching all first-party games on the service simultaneously with the retail releases.

“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,” said Choudhry.

The idea of a full-fat ‘Netflix for games’ springs to mind. But that has arguably been attempted before with OnLive which failed to find its feet; it did get snapped up by Sony but was promptly shut down.

But OnLive launched at a time where superfast broadband wasn’t widely available, nor was the service flush with the latest and greatest games.

So with the might of the Xbox division and the power of Azure, a Microsoft gaming streaming service could very much forge one path into the future of gaming.

However, it’ll need to move fast or build strong partnerships, as Nvidia has GeForce Now, a cloud gaming service that can pipe triple-A games to devices not normally mentioned in the same breath as gaming, such as MacBooks.

Regardless of the form it eventually takes, cloud computing will continue to grow the part it has to play in the gaming world, whether that means streaming console-quality games to smartphones or support massive virtual worlds online. µ

Source : Inquirer

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