Increasing influence across the games sector
While Microsoft may not be winning in the console gaming market, it is steadily building a comprehensive set of developer and live service tools increasingly integrated into its Azure cloud platform, which is readying it for the next wave of games development and industry disruption expecting to hit the market in 2020. Microsoft has bundled these tools and services together into the Microsoft Game Stack, reflecting the company’s ambition to build its exposure to the games sector.
With next generation console platforms expected to launch next year and numerous companies circling the cloud gaming market, not least Microsoft itself, the company is well placed to broaden its role in the games industry value chain and deliver an end-to-end portfolio of solutions that are as relevant to the industry as it is the consumer.
Microsoft’s back-end developer tools have evolved rapidly in recent years and were reinforced by the acquisition of PlayFab in January 2018. Amazon made a similar move with its acquisition of GameSparks, so it has several comparable services. Google also has its own set of games developer tools integrated into Google Cloud, but arguably less developed than both Microsoft and Amazon. Very few companies are positioned as strongly as Microsoft in this context.
At the heart of Microsoft’s strategy is an ambition to become fully platform agnostic as it believes this is the way it will drive B2B business to its development tools and cloud business, and how it will extend its audience at the consumer end. Aside from wide platform support for Microsoft tools – developers can take an ‘a la carte’ approach to selecting services in Game Stack – it will also be bringing the Xbox Live SDK to iOS and Android devices. Having developed a beachhead with Xbox Live in its multi-platform title Minecraft, Microsoft is ready to step beyond this implementation and open the tools to other app developers.
How does this relate to Project xCloud?
Being active in cloud gaming allows Microsoft to synergize its infrastructure investments with its consumer facing content and services. As the momentum builds behind a revitalized cloud gaming market, cloud service providers recognize the disruptive potential of the technology and their cloud infrastructure competitive advantage. By adding developer tools to the product mix, Microsoft can potentially offer an end-to-end solution that will support the development, deployment, distribution, live service management, and consumption of games through its Azure data centres.