Rivals on the Storm: Microsoft and Sony collaborating on Cloud Gaming

Megan Bonnell


blog image

One of the most amusing news last week concerns the already announced alliance between Microsoft and Sony. These two giants have been collaborating or competing in lots of branches, but this time they announce a collaborative project in their biggest battlefield: gaming. What storm are they riding?

Let the Children Play

While forums are still boiling with PS-vs-Xbox battles, the companies that got it started published the memorandum of understanding on May 16th. There’s not much to squeeze out of these common words, but it’s clear that Microsoft Azure will provide the platform for cloud services that will enhance gaming experience both for PlayStation and Xbox users.

It doesn’t mean any chances of cross-platform compatibility: each vendor will hold on to its exclusives and grab more. It rather follows the pattern of Apple and Samsung, the two companies that rival heavily in the high-end phone segment and troll each other on Twitter. But still, Samsung manufactures displays, batteries and memory chips for iPhones, for a simple reason: the two companies fit each other’s needs.
The same goes for Sony and Microsoft. Sony implements more cloud services into the gaming experience, and Microsoft has a great Azure platform. Playing diehard rivals won’t pay.

It gets even more important if all we heard through the grapevine about PlayStation 5 is true. Among all platforms, the new console will provide seamless remote play throughout multiple devices (say, smartphones or PCs with the original app). That’s the official statement; the rumor meanwhile has it that the new console will have no optical drive. It seems reasonable, at least as an option because Microsoft has already announced an Xbox One deprived of that “atavism”. All of this means that cloud integration will be even more important in the brave new world.

Into This World We’re Thrown

Let’s not forget that the new consoles the companies are about to release will see the world of tomorrow and stay in it for at least four years. This will be the world of 5G, Internet of things, self-driving cars, foldable screens, satellite Internet all over the Earth by Amazon and SpaceX, solar energy, and, of course, the world with Google and Apple dominating mobile industry.

These innovations are to revolutionize the whole world, and the gaming industry as well. You can play in your car while the autopilot drives it across the country; in the forest with no wires around, connected to the satellite and powered by sunrays; maybe even in space, beyond the atmosphere. Home consoles may change their missions now; no more they are the physical center of your entertainment, but rather a big dongle that grants your access to cloud gaming.

Killer on the Road

The major threat the two giants are so swiftly responding to, however, may affect the decision stronger than the brave new possibilities. Google and Apple, two companies controlling the mobile market through their platforms, are launching their own cloud gaming services. Apple Arcade was announced during the presentation on March 15th, 2019, and will probably launch in September.

But Google Stadia, also scheduled for later this year, seems to be a greater threat than self-sufficient Apple with its standalone ecosystem. Stadia provides 4K video at 60 FPS, the best for today. But there’s a more serious threat: its integration with YouTube will let players watch letsplay demos or live streams and find the game in several seconds. Personal recommendations will bring the users (already filed and analyzed) the games they will most probably like. And the day is still 24 hours long. Google can take over the gaming market, leaving its rivals like a dog without a bone. Sweet family won’t probably die that soon, but Google isn’t to be underrated.

Our Life Will Never End?

The project Sony and Microsoft are launching will reduce costs of the services for Sony and bring a good client to Microsoft Azure. The companies can also join their powers to develop a new solution they could cross-license and maybe even offer to third parties. This alliance can expand its interest; for example, Sony’s image recognition and processing may combine with Microsoft’s AI researches, and then we’ll see the next Kinect. Maybe not.