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Microsoft’s new gaming cloud division readies for a future beyond Xbox

Tom Warren writes: A “Netflix for video games” would be an important service for any company with cloud gaming aspirations, but it’s going to be a difficult task for Microsoft on rival platforms like the PlayStation 4 or Nintendo’s Switch. Despite the challenge, Kareem Choudhry, the head of Microsoft's Cloud gaming division hints that Microsoft could achieve this by streaming games to devices.
“We’re looking at ways to make that content available to anyone no matter what device they’re on,” says Choudhry.

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153d ago Replies(2)
Septic152d ago (Edited 152d ago )

“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud,“

And people on here keep saying they've given up on it...

"We’re looking at ways to make that content available to anyone no matter what device they’re on,” says Choudhry."

Will Xbox Game Pass be available on Sony and Nintendo's console one day?

Also, didn't realise Rainbow 6 on all platforms runs on Azure; even on PS4. Don't be ungrateful when discussing the "power of the cloud" 😉

Outside_ofthe_Box152d ago

"Don't be ungrateful when discussing the "power of the cloud" 😉 "

Remember! Microsoft's original claim was that it made the XB1 more powerful than the PS4, which we know it isn't true.

Septic151d ago

Well that claim was BS (If made).

But Sony fans, be grateful for Azure!

SpaceRanger151d ago

“Well that claim was BS (If made).“

If made? Lmao! This is coming from one of the fanboys who took those statements and ran with them. 😂 they made those statements so many times and so many people fell for it and bought an Xbox for that reason.

WilliamSheridan151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Technically the claim wasn't bullshit because if you look at Sea of Thieves, PS4 likely couldn't handle an open world game like that because of the water physics alone.

I mean obviously it's a huge stretch since Sony could have a similar cloud tech, but technically not untrue.

Felsager151d ago Show
JackBNimble151d ago

Williamsheridan
If the ps4 couldn't handle it then the OGxbox is definitely not going to run sea of thieves well. And that would be a disservice to MS fan base.

Outside_ofthe_Box151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

"Well that claim was BS (If made)."

Yeah, that's where the *initial* reactions of the cloud being fake/impossible stem from because MS wasn't willing to give up the crown of most powerful initially.

http://n4g.com/news/1399058...

Obviously cloud computation/processing is possible, but people afterwards still ran with "the cloud is fake/bs" meme though because of the initial claims.

And yes Azure is nice!

rainslacker151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

@Will

"Technically the claim wasn't BS because if you look at Sea of Thieves, PS4 likely couldn't handle an open world game like that because of the water physics alone. "

What water physics are those? I noticed from the last big long trailer they had, that the boats don't seem to actually interact with the water at all. They glide through the waves as if the water was still. Heavy waves don't seem to rock the ship. There's no breaking of waves on the hull, or splitting of the water on the bow.

I had several people tell me that there was never any talk about the physics, but that it looked good, which it does.....so does it have physics, or does it just look good? Because if it just looks good, then the PS4 could probably do it well enough. The X1X would do it better I suppose. But the rendering is on the system, not the cloud.

In any case, I'm sure PS4 could handle an open world game. It already has some. It's not like it has to handle the entire world's water at once, and if the game was online, they could use cloud as well if they wanted to.

But outside the persistent world, I don't see any reason why MS marketed version of the cloud is in any way showcased here....and persistent worlds are fairly standard fare for lots of MMO's today.

ThinkThink151d ago

I don't think It's BS, The technology will happen. They just announced it waaaaay too early. They really should have held that crackdown 3 cloud announcement until last year but they learned that lesson. So when Group program manager of Xbox Incubation & Prototyping Jeff Henshaw made the statement:

"that for every console Microsoft builds, it will provision the CPU and storage equivalent of three Xbox One consoles in the cloud."

He wasn't lying, he just didn't anticipate it would take so long. Not saying MS doesn't ever lie. All companies lie. Just saying people are making this out to be some bid deception.

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152d ago Replies(2)
Rude-ro152d ago

😂😂 “And people on here keep saying they’ve give. Up on it...”
No.
People made fun of Microsoft and people like you when you were saying that cloud gaming would make the Xbox one(no longer in production) 4x more powerful and might even do 4k(the Xbox one in no way could even do a 4k image due to hdmi)...

Corrected that for you.

Doughhead151d ago

The Original launch XBox One is no longer being made,,corrected it for you

Rude-ro151d ago

@Doughhead
The Xbox one is no longer in production.
The Xbox one s the first of two upgrades is now the base console that is being manufactured.
No correction needed.

151d ago
2pacalypsenow151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

No, MS said it would make the Xbox 1 40 times powerful with the power of the cloud....

This is just what Sony is doing with PlayStation Now.

ImGumbyDammit151d ago

That is comparing oranges to apples. Comparing the massive backend moves Microsoft and Amazon are both doing for their expanding gaming services platforms definitely means you are not grasping the move that is going on here. Actually, from the comments, most people don't understand what Microsoft is doing.

"This is what Sony is doing with PSNow"
Actually not more powerful, half as powerful on its best. In its current form, PSNow is to cloud as McDonalds is to gourmet food.

2pacalypsenow151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

The cloud did nothing to improve the game performance on Xbox 1 like they stated in 2013, that is fact.
That's why we got the Xbox 1 X , however, it has improved online games using dedicated servers. But games using dedicated servers have always been "in the cloud" that was the cloud is, just computers.

Again Sony is already doing cloud gaming, yes in the future when Ms does it it will be better, to think technology wont improve is ridiculous, but im talking about right now. We had the Eye Toy in 2003 then MS improved it with the Kinect. Technology improves

rainslacker151d ago

@Gumby

I see what some companies are trying to push for. Probably better than most. But that hasn't in any way supplanted tradtional gaming, and it's going to be a long while before this idea of cloud gaming becomes the mainstream and is readily accepted by anyone.

It's good MS is looking into it now. But they're late to the party again when it comes to streaming. Maybe they'll make a better product than what Sony has so far offered, but everything else MS is marketing has already been done, and they didn't even come up with asynchronous cloud compute, and to date, haven't delivered a game which actually uses it for more than you'd see from any given MMO on the market.

Sony's PSNow is powerful enough to provide it's service. Azure is much more broad in scope, and it's resources aren't committed to gaming. Personally, thinking of the amount of processing power required to run millions of concurrent gaming instances means that MS probably isn't ready for it either.

ThinkThink151d ago

40 times more powerful than the xbox 360. according that that article Ziggercat just posted.

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zackeroniii151d ago

you're saying that as if you believe cloud gaming is actually a good idea lmao

chiefJohn117151d ago

For those with good internet, casual play and don't wanna play hundreds on a console it is.

UCForce151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

@chiefJohn117 And do you believe everyone have a strong internet ? And @Obscure_Observer @Septic Even you believe Gaas is the future gaming, but will it be a perfect future ? In theory yes, but reality it won’t be even no matter how we try to perfecting it because we are not living in perfect world. More importantly, we are not god of gaming.

chiefJohn117151d ago

I didn't say everyone did. Just like not everyone have internet but we still received online mp. It's for a specific crowd.

ImGumbyDammit151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Well, not today in the form of what you are probably talking about, a PSNow services. Cloud terminology is very broad and most of what new division is doing is about creating relationship/sales with Azure services for customers. Microsoft with this division is essentially developing backed services for Azure to expose to customers and not remotely close to PSNow like program today. The new Xbox Cloud division is designed to expose and enhance Azure services for others to exploit. They will be developing services for gaming servers taking advantage of the Azure cloud infrastructure. Let us not forget Microsofts biggest cloud services competitor, Amazon, is doing something similar as well.

All this talk about streaming is years off. Any article or person talking as if this is the move Microsoft is making now is completely off the mark. Microsoft said as much several times that streaming is not an area that they are going to be doing in the near future. Microsoft's own recent Azure infrastructure moves, like PlayFab, play into that current trend supporting backend services support for game developers rather than developing a full-on PSNow like streaming service for Xbox. The only people that didn't get the memo that streaming is not ready for primetime is Sony with PSNow.

Sure, as part of the long game strategy Microsoft does expect there will be a time when streaming is an actually viable option to what a console can provide. They have had several test runs at streaming done internally over the years. Each time concluding that much-required networking infrastructure and overall experience for customers is not there yet. I suspect they will continue to develop a streaming service internally and provide one when it feels it can be an efficient option. This is not that move.

This move is where Microsoft wants to build up a need for its Azure gaming services by developers. Those services are much more about supplying access to tools and infrastructure in Azure. As a gaming population grows (1 billion today, 2 billion tomorrow, 3 billion a decade from now) and those games themselves get more complex to support that ever increasing gaming population the developers will need a far larger and more complex series backend services. And doing so becomes more expensive to do it on their own. Microsoft wants to grow Azure (the largest cloud-based service provider) in every direction and this one of the moves. Microsoft wants to be able to provide those services and much more to developers out of the box without developers having to do it themselves, Developers doing it on their own now are finding homegrown options become more expensive and are less robust and definitely very inefficient use of resources to support compared to the broad range of options Azure can provide.

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Aenea151d ago

"power of the cloud" is a nonsensical thing to say anyways, they are just servers, nothing more, nothing less, they've been around for decades....

Plus, what many people mean with "power of the cloud" is enhancing games with physics being calculated on servers, has nothing whatsoever to do with Rainbow 6's use of Azure servers...

All online games use servers, by that same faulty logic they all have "power of the cloud"?

Christopher151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Wut?

It's more nonsensical to just say they are servers than what you did. Yeah, it's hosted on hardware, but the point of the cloud is its ability to grow and shrink with need. There's a complete difference between hosting data on a server and being able to automatically expand across a wide network of devices to accommodate tons of data at any time while keeping costs down by shrinking that usage when it's not being utilized.

No one thinks there are actual clouds, but the use of The Cloud as a technology term is in reference to a wide system of networks, which includes servers, to manage online environments and data cost effectively and with the ability to expand automatically to meet user demands. This involves a completely different structure than 'a server' and utilizes advanced algorithms and metrics to determine how the environment reacts to increased usage needs.

Aenea151d ago

@Chris

Yes, yes, I know, but Seppie is now calling game servers of Rainbow 6 being part of "Da Cloud" which is silly...

And yes, the cloud has been used for many years as well, it's not just the automatically adding servers, load balancing has been around for many years as well without calling it 'the cloud'. It just got popular in usage due to people not really knowing what it all meant.

My original point was tho that when MS and some of their fans talked about "power of the cloud" they meant Cloudgine's technology being used to do physics calculations. Many of those fans even went so far as to thinking it could do things that would never be possible.

Now falafel here is saying that Rainbow 6's servers are the cloud as well merely because they use Azure servers. Using Azure servers doesn't mean they are using servers to calculate physics....

PS. still think "the cloud" is a silly marketing term to sound interesting to people who don't know tech all that well...
PPS. I kinda thought you knew that I actually know a few things about IT? wondering why you're replying to me when I try to over-simplify things a teensy bit :)

Christopher151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

***load balancing has been around for many years ***

Load balancing existed before, but not in a manner that allowed you to not have to purchase the max number of servers. You're not buying servers or VM servers here, you're buying a max limit and a cost based on load to go with it. Then you're getting charged based on what you use, which usually isn't equal to previous max load and can easily be yours without you having to install servers yourself.

***My original point was tho that when MS and some of their fans talked about "power of the cloud" they meant Cloudgine's technology being used to do physics calculations. ***

Then you should probably actually talk about that, because all I saw was someone who was trying to undersell what The Cloud means as both a technical term related to online services as well as how it is vastly different than what we had before from a management, accessibility, power, and cost efficient stand point.

***Using Azure servers doesn't mean they are using servers to calculate physics.... ***

You're confusing Cloud Computing with Cloud Services. No one brought up cloud computing.

***PPS. I kinda thought you knew that I actually know a few things about IT?***

I don't keep track of everyone's proficiencies, but your posts above are not selling me on your credentials. I think you might have stuck your foot in your mouth this time just to argue Cloud Computing versus Cloud as a technical term when that's not even what the submission is about. And downplaying Cloud Services is, IMHO, ignorant of how much it took to run games online in the past and is one of the key reasons the online market has boomed in the last decade.

I won't forget the days of every MMO launch talking about how they have to spend a week to add more servers for load when now it can be done in hours and remotely at that rather than from an actual server room.

rainslacker151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

@Chris

"Cloud" doesn't have to be scalable based on demand. Technically, the cloud itself can have power go unused, or the servers themselves become overloaded. The term cloud refers more to distribution of servers and data to be processed where need be. MMO's have used this concept long before cloud became the marketing term for it.

I think Aenea's reference is wrong though, as dedicated server for gaming, doesn't necessarily refer to the cloud....although many of them are running on cloud servers nowadays.

As far as the pricing goes, it can vary from service to service. Azure works in the way you say. Amazon and Google have a couple different structures based on need.

Christopher151d ago

***"Cloud" doesn't have to be scalable based on demand. Technically, the cloud itself can have power go unused, or the servers themselves become overloaded.***

True but doing as such is stupid and costly. Even cloud services that offer you a flat amount will scale your environment without telling you because they can make more money. And I know they can overload, that's why I mention maximum load based on plan/structure.

***The term cloud refers more to distribution of servers and data to be processed where need be. MMO's have used this concept long before cloud became the marketing term for it. ***

I think you should note not just distribution but virtualized systems. If it's hardware in specific regions, that is not the cloud. It's specific to virtualized environments propagated across regions.

It's not just "distribution".

Otherwise, I'm not sure why you're telling me this. Regardless if when it became the cloud, it is officially a technical term now and not marketing. Terminology evolves.

Aenea151d ago Show
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Christopher151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Don't most third party AAA titles run on Azure?

Septic151d ago

Im not sure tbh. This is the first I'm hearing of it iirc

Christopher151d ago

Costs for them over the past five years have greatly decreased in comparison to others. They would be crazy to not use them unless software environment was an issue. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if Sony didn't utilize Azure more and more.

Aenea151d ago

AWS is a rather nice alternative, I do know Sony is using Amazon servers for parts of PSN...

Christopher151d ago

AWS is great for storefronts. Massive MP games? Please, no, never, niet, no way, nein, etc.

rainslacker151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Amazon is quite popular. There are some smaller cloud providers out there which get used as well.

Doesn't really matter which one is used, so long as it can run the software required for the game....which to my knowledge, they all can because of how you have to write for cloud compute....which isn't quite like making something to a specific OS.

Sony itself is investing in RackSpace, which is it's own cloud service.

Aenea151d ago Show
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DarkVoyager151d ago

@Septic

“Phil really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud,“

“And people on here keep saying they've given up on it”

If it’s game streaming like PS Now they can keep it. I hate game streaming. There’s too much lag and the image is compressed making games look and play horrible.

If it’s cloud compute that’s a different story. That I can live with since you’re playing the game locally.

letsa_go151d ago

Dude, they are network servers. Azure is just microsoft's fancy name. Amazon among other companies has server farms too. I am sure sony has server farms for their psnow. They are just rackmount computers using intel processors. You make it sound like Azure is alien technology that only microsoft has.

ILostMyMind151d ago

They have been doing this for years, as if everything Microsoft did was wonderful but what Sony does, no. I laugh at the stupidity of this people.

Eonjay151d ago

Not games pass but I could see a push for the streaming service like PSNow. Again, I don't see don't see Sony playing nice unless there is some mutual agreement with Microsoft service. So many caveats to consider like: What if both services have similar games? What if the prices are different. One has a way bigger base so who is the most advantage here (It would be Microsoft but you can argue the sum of both bases are available)? Using my brain, I can predict with about 99% certainty, that any streaming service from will appear on the Switch and not the PS4. It solves so many problems for so many different parties.

Godmars290151d ago

How does it not say something when they're talking about theoretical goals five years into suggesting that the tech was ready for retail? An active part of the XB1 prior to the XBX's existence.

That Azure is even on the PS4 speaks more of MS goal as a middleman, who gets paid from all directions, than an industry leader. The two positions actually cancel each other out.

rainslacker151d ago

"And people on here keep saying they've given up on it.."

And people say the same thing about Sony and PSNow. Usually in reference to how it's an utter failure.

"Will Xbox Game Pass be available on Sony and Nintendo's console one day?"

I don't think we'll see it on Sony's console. They have their own service for cloud gaming. Even if MS left the console market, Sony wouldn't likely offer up a competitive service which would have it's own games.

Lots of games run their servers on Azure. It's a good network.

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gtxgamer2152d ago

Sounds like an "online only" future for Xbox, I could be wrong though. Weren't fans upset with online only when Microsoft first introduced Xbox one??

Atanasrikard152d ago

Where did you read that? Cuz what I read was that this is another division within xbox focused on the cloud and streaming. They are trying to expand the xbox brand by bringing choice to every platform they can.

Kokyu151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

Their ultimate goal has always been all digital this is just another step. The only hardware manufacture not courting all digital is Nintendo. Sony and Microsoft want all digital delivery and games sales that way they get every sub possible for a stead revenue stream and royalties.

Xenophon_York151d ago

All Microsoft cares about is cutting cost of console manufacturing. I'd rather keep the hardware power to game in my own space and connect online as an option, not a requirement.

Atanasrikard151d ago

@Kokyu

Well no shit. Digital IS the future. It is here, whether you like it or not. People will always resist change. Eventually those people will adapt or be left behind.

@Xenophon

You are wrong. Every company cares about cutting costs. If Microsoft wanted to cut out the cost of the console manufacturing, why would they even develop the One X?

343_Guilty_Spark151d ago

@Xenophon_York

So why did they make the X which they aren’t making money on?

Xenophon_York147d ago

@Atanasrikard

Wrong? Hardly. Fact is some companies put saving a short buck before giving customers a grand experience. Not a new shortcoming for a business to have—Microsoft is just one of the newest offenders to be finally suffering the repercussions.

Atanasrikard147d ago

@Xeno

You say that and still completely gloss over the FACT that Microsoft spent boatloads of money developing the One X. So, again, you are wrong. If they wanted to save a buck they wouldn't have bothered with the One X. They would have just developed their next generation of console. Or, according to you, not bothered with a new generation in order to "cut costs" and "save a buck."

They spend countless millions developing a "grand experience" that goes beyond just playing the game. They are moving toward a different future than the one you want. You don't have to be a part of it. But asserting that it is the big, bad, Microsoft that wants to save a buck and not every company in existence is idiocy.

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gamer7804152d ago

Phil actually said the opposite before just that gaming cloud and games pass were alternatives or enhancements and not replacements, not sure where you are getting this from other than a thinly veiled fanboy jab.

151d ago
Atanasrikard151d ago

@Mako

Do you remember how everyone hates on everything Microsoft announces, so Microsoft changes everything they had planned to try and appease people and then they just hate on them more and say "see, see! they lied to us about this, that, and the other! They said they will do this and this! Now they are doing this and this! Let me pull up something they said 12 years ago and apply it to today as proof of their lies!!"

You made it loud and clear that you people didn't want Kinect. So they finally drop the Kinect and you STILL hold that shit against them! But now it's the opposite! They gave you what you wanted and it isn't good enough.

They are investing in 1st party. They are "doubling down" on PC by bringing all of their 1st party to PC. Yet it STILL isn't good enough for you guys. They still somehow lied about their commitment to PC. You guys talk about how great it is that you don't need to buy an xbox because you have a PC and yet they still aren't committed to PC.

There is no winning against rabid, mindless hate yet Microsoft continues to try.

If I really gave a shit I would look up all the "lies" Sony and Nintendo have had through the years. I don't, because it doesn't matter. A company can say one thing and then a few years later realize that they have to go in a different direction. Some call it "lying." Others call it running a company and adapting to the times.

Christopher151d ago (Edited 151d ago )

By this logic, sounds like an online only future for PlayStation as well. They're talking about providing the same type of service as PSNow.

151d ago
Christopher151d ago

***What they are talking about is really is no more hardware.***

They're saying the same thing when Sony started talking about their own cloud service. You market it with its intentions, you don't bring up alternatives they will continue to work on because you want to drum up interest to see if the market follows in that direction.

They could end up doing the exact same as Sony does now, but they're not going to say they will focus on hardware when trying to sell software only solutions. That hurts their marketing of it.

151d ago
Christopher151d ago

@MakoD, I don't disagree with your assessment of viability, just explaining how Microsoft is speaking about it and why they ignore other elements of their business while talking about it.

151d ago
343_Guilty_Spark151d ago

PlayStation as a service. And PSGAAS

Atanasrikard151d ago

@Mako

Do you even read the articles you post?

In literally the second paragraph:

"Obviously for us, the console is an important part there..."

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agent4532151d ago

Yes, but console gamers are extremely loyal to corporations that will accept anything willingly. Look at PlayStation fans talking about how honorable of Sony for not charging online and how charging for online gaming was bad. Sony charges for online and PlayStation fans cave in. ....

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aConIsDemocracy152d ago ShowReplies(2)
zackeroniii151d ago ShowReplies(1)