In March, Microsoft announced that Xbox veteran Kareem Choudary would be heading up the new Gaming Cloud division at Xbox, built specifically to create new gaming experiences that leverage Azure, and on-ramp existing partners into Microsoft’s cloud. Ubisoft and PUBG Corp are two big names that already partner with Microsoft for cloud servers, and the partnerships are widely expected to grow.
Of course, today we’re using the cloud for dedicated servers in Sea of Thieves, Halo, and Forza, but as Microsoft looks to the future, streaming games directly from the internet to your devices will be the name of the game.
In the form of multiple job listings (thanks, Mike Reaney), it seems as though Microsoft is investing more heavily, moving ahead with these long-rumoured cloud-streaming features, which could (and probably will) include mobile devices.
The first job listing is for a software engineer with mobile development experience to join the Gaming Cloud team at Xbox. It would be fair to assume that maybe they’re simply building mobile apps for developers to use, but the job listing specifically discusses creating “awesome products for excited Xbox fans.”
Another job listing asks for a Senior Software Engineering lead, and gives some hints as to what this mysterious new team is working on. It describes a specific “important project” within the Gaming Cloud division, aimed at bringing entire gaming workloads to Azure.
It’s not a stretch to envision how gaming will eventually migrate to the cloud in much the same way music and movies have with Spotify and Netflix. Sure, there are huge complications to overcome such as controller latency and so on, but if the data connection is fast enough (and as global speeds increase, it eventually will be), it becomes a bit of a no-brainer.
I previously reviewed the Utorcase mount for the Lumia 950 XL, and utilizing developer tools for Xbox, I was able to stream my console to my phone in much the same way you’re able to to a Windows 10 PC. It offered a tantalising glimpse at what Microsoft is trying to build here.
Microsoft has dozens of datacenters all around the globe and dedicated undersea cables to prepare for these kinds of scenarios in a device-agnostic future powered by the cloud. It might be years before we see the fruits of the Gaming Cloud team’s labors, but it certainly seems as though your Xbox library won’t be shackled to your console for much longer.