For Microsoft, the future of gaming is in the cloud

David Matthews

Posts: 430   +83
Staff member

The concept of cloud gaming is nothing new. Most of us have heard of the ill-fated OnLive that was promptly bought and shut down by Sony. In fact, Sony themselves bought Gaikai and leveraged their streaming technology to introduce PlayStation Now. Nvidia threw its' hat in the ring with its GeForce Now game streaming service for PC gamers. Now it's Microsoft's turn...maybe. Today, the company unveiled a new cloud gaming division that is gearing up for a future where consoles are simply streaming boxes.

The new cloud gaming division will be lead by Kareem Choudhry, a 20 year veteran of the company with ties to some of Microsoft's biggest services such as Outlook and Xbox. Choudhry will report directly to Phil Spencer, the head of gaming.

In an interview with The Verge, Choudhry explained the genesis of new initiative:

“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud," said 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.”

When Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella first took over the company, he stressed how Microsoft would become a "mobile first, cloud first" company in which Azure would drive Microsoft's future growth. The oft-delayed Crackdown 3 demonstrates this commitment by utilizing Microsoft's Azure cloud services to allow for fully destructible environments. Developer Ubisoft has also been relying on Azure to scale its multiplayer across PC, PS4, and Xbox One.

Microsoft already has Xbox Game Pass which the company has promised will get all future first party titles at launch, including the next Halo and Gears of War. Sea of Thieves is already the first big title to be released on Game Pass. Microsoft's grand scheme is likely to develop a "Netflix of gaming" service where you simply subscribe to Xbox Game Pass and play games in the catalog instead of shelling out $60 per game.

“What we’re doing with game pass and creating a subscription-based product, where over half the content is third-party content. I would say we’re getting started from a subscription product perspective," explained Choudhry.

However, something to that scale will not come easy and third parties will have to agree to a business plan that makes sense for them and Microsoft. Furthermore, access to high speed internet would have to increase for a service like this to work effectively. Imagine playing a twitch shooter like Halo and you miss a shot because your roommates decide to stream Netflix in 4K all at once.

The gaming industry seems to be moving towards a "games as a service" paradigm as game publishers try to find way ways to continue monetizing games after they've launched. If Microsoft can convince third party publishers to make new games available as a subscription service, gaming will have changed forever and Microsoft seems to think they have scale to pull it off.

“We’re really pleased with the success that’s happening [with Game Pass],” says Choudhry. “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.”

Permalink to story.

 

RaXoR

Posts: 219   +157
No thanks. Unless gigabit connections become widespread and latency can be dealt with, this will not succeed to the extent Microsoft wants it to.
 

noel24

Posts: 744   +913
Compared to some western countries, I feel fortunate to pay $15 for 50Gb connection, but during storms or heavy fall (which happen often at some parts od the year) I happen to have sporadic, if any connection, and by habit, any "always connected" games are No-Go for Me. I believe many will agree with Me. So, to make this server-based gaming to work, We need another century of progress, mostly in landlines quality.
 

alabama man

Posts: 563   +355
If it's really about streaming games it wont work for PC, the input lag, resolution and refresh rates wont be anywhere near acceptable outside japan in the next decade or two, maybe even longer. For 30fps single player experiences on TV it might be acceptable. This isn't really news as they have tried this before with gfwl and as greedy americans they wont stop until they have it all or lose it all. And if they fail they will just cut all support as they did with gfwl, at least this time you won't be left with a broken product as you can only rent.
 

Misagt

Posts: 316   +234
Nope, never, not going to happen. I honestly hate games I have to have a connection for. Yes I don't mind MMO's as it's a certain type of game. But if it's a single player game I want it on my computer in my possession.
 

Nobina

Posts: 3,280   +3,349
I don't know anyone who would want games on a cloud and games as a service. They just want to milk as much money as possible even though they earn millions if not billions from just selling the game at 60. There really is no end to their greed. If this **** passes we will have to buy a game which will be a "service" which you will have to pay monthly for upkeep or whatever and on top of that you will have microtransactions and loot boxes and on top of that they will constantly hassle you to buy skins in game. That is the worst case scenario which might not happen to every game but even half of it will make me look away.
 

Ravey

Posts: 314   +138
Im looking forward to full streaming service for games. I have a small family and I'm dreading the point where both my kids will start asking for gaming laptops, desktops, consoles, phones. Having a single shell terminal that hooks up to massive streaming server for a single low fee? that makes a lot of sense to me.

No more replacing expensive hardware every 3 to 4 years. no more time wasted defragging hard drives or trimming SSDs. no more time wasted on ensuring your drivers are up to date for your over priced graphics card. just booting up the console, picking a game and play!
 

enemys

Posts: 258   +287
TechSpot Elite
Bring it on. I'm having my 250Mbps connection replaced with a new, fiber based 600Mbps one today. I'm gonna stream ten FHD Skyrims at once. Because I can.
 

David Matthews

Posts: 430   +83
Staff member
Im looking forward to full streaming service for games. I have a small family and I'm dreading the point where both my kids will start asking for gaming laptops, desktops, consoles, phones. Having a single shell terminal that hooks up to massive streaming server for a single low fee? that makes a lot of sense to me.

No more replacing expensive hardware every 3 to 4 years. no more time wasted defragging hard drives or trimming SSDs. no more time wasted on ensuring your drivers are up to date for your over priced graphics card. just booting up the console, picking a game and play!

Honestly, you bring up an excellent point about parents. This could potentially save people a lot of money
 

erickmendes

Posts: 621   +274
Internet is not ready for this... When 50Mps become the common place with low latency, then we will be ready.
 

stewi0001

Posts: 2,655   +2,323
Compared to some western countries, I feel fortunate to pay $15 for 50Gb connection, but during storms or heavy fall (which happen often at some parts od the year) I happen to have sporadic, if any connection, and by habit, any "always connected" games are No-Go for Me. I believe many will agree with Me. So, to make this server-based gaming to work, We need another century of progress, mostly in landlines quality.

Satellite?
 

RaXoR

Posts: 219   +157
Internet is not ready for this... When 50Mps become the common place with low latency, then we will be ready.
Even 50Mbps connections will struggle. I had a 60 Mbps connection and tested out the PS now service, it was an absolute disaster. High input lag, stutter and dropped frames (from stream). It will require a local server every 10 miles apart to mitigate latency.
 

atari1980

Posts: 7   +21
Giving money to Microsoft every month til the end of time to play and having to deal with servers issues, or games being deleted from my library because Microsoft would lose the right to X or Y game? (Yes, it will happen.This is happening all the time with my Tidal subscription, and also happened to at least one game just a year after creating my GOG account).....No thanks!

To me it sounds more like a wet dream from the investors of the big publishers who wants total control on what I should, can or can't play.

They wouldn't feel the pressure/need to make quality games anymore, with an uninterrupted flow of money , even if you feel unhappy with the 'new' Halo 10 or COD 299, you can't just stop paying your subscription to let them know how you feel about them without loosing access to ALL your games. How convenient.

I'm not too worried though, Microsoft will always be a greedy 'me too' company that shoots itself in the foot one way or another.

They are not thinking for the long term, they're not building a good relationship/trust with their customers. Late to the party, they want to cash-in on the latest trend. Launch something that another company is already doing, but crappier, and if it doesn't make them billions right away they get cold feet and say that they had to react to market shifts and so 'we had to pull the plug'.. Leaving all their customers to themselves. They even have the nerves to expect them to come back and to throw cash at them when they release their next mediocre product.

Look at what happened to the Game for Windows platform. Now PC gamers have to deal with unofficial mod/hacking tools to remove that crap to play games they legally bought because it needs to connect to their closed down servers.

I would never trust Microsoft with handling games as a service.
 
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Ascaris

Posts: 132   +94
Sorry, I meant 50Megabit for $15 per month. Actually, I dont think anyone is getting 50Gb per household these days?

I didn't even notice that you'd written Gb! I guessed it was per month... I was trying to be facetious in suggesting that even at quadruple that price, it would be a better deal than I can get here (which is, sadly, the truth). I couldn't get any internet service for $15 a month (well, dialup maybe... assuming it still exists). I doubt if I could even get anything for $30 per month, and I wouldn't bet on being able to get out the door for $45 a month. A 50 megabit connection (or higher) is not available at any price, to my knowledge.

I'm one of the fortunate few in my area to be able to get 40 megabit... most around here couldn't get even that, but my local telco is (shockingly) actually spending money in infrastructure upgrades, so now I've got 40 at least. There is no cable service here.

I'm not counting cellular in any of this... I haven't investigated it. I have no idea what that costs; all I know is people complain about it a lot, so I'd guess it's expensive. I just have a cheap feature phone with no data plan!
 

commanderasus

Posts: 225   +99
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