In a move I don’t think any of us could have predicted, longtime rivals Sony and Microsoft have announced a new partnership with a view to developing cloud gaming services together.
The companies behind PlayStation and Xbox will “explore joint development of future cloud solutions”, specifically for Microsoft Azure. The pair plan to share information and technology between the two companies to build on shared infrastructures for future projects, including whatever game and content streaming services Sony might have up its sleeve.
— Phil Spencer (@XboxP3) May 16, 2019
A joint statement from the pair confirmed that Sony will use Microsoft Azure for its own game and content-streaming services. The companies also plan also to work together on semiconductors and artificial intelligence.
Sony president Kenichiro Yoshida said in the announcement:
Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content.
Meanwhile, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that the partnership would bring “the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”
The two companies intend to share more information on this brave new collaboration “when available.” Given it’s just been announced, it’s clearly early days for their partnership, but it’ll be fascinating to see how it impacts Sony’s existing streaming services PlayStation Now, as well as whatever services it plans to announce in the future.
Bringing the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers https://t.co/cMRKFE74Yk
— Satya Nadella (@satyanadella) May 16, 2019
Microsoft is currently planning its own games streaming service called xCloud, which is set to directly compete with Google Stadia, which was announced back in March. By all accounts, Stadia sounds like a truly ambitious beast that promises the ability to instantly stream and play AAA quality titles on pretty much any device with a screen, with absolutely zero latency.
Given Google has the brand recognition, technological clout, and global data centres required to pull off a project as massive as Stadia, it could be that Sony and Microsoft’s partnership is a direct response to the tech giant’s play for the gaming world.
We also know Microsoft has slowly been opening itself up to rival companies, working with Nintendo on crossplay and even announcing plans to bring Xbox Live features to mobile devices and Switch. Just last month, former Xbox exclusive Cuphead was released for Nintendo’s handheld/home console hybrid.
E3 2019 is mere weeks away, and we know Microsoft plans to go big – possibly by formally announcing its Xbox One successor. Details on the PlayStation 5 are also starting to trickle down from Sony, and with this new partnership it’s fair to say that the next generation of consoles could be the most fascinating yet.
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Ewan Moore is a journalist at UNILAD Gaming who still quite hasn’t gotten out of his mid 00’s emo phase. After graduating from the University of Portsmouth in 2015 with a BA in Journalism & Media Studies (thanks for asking), he went on to do some freelance words for various places, including Kotaku, Den of Geek, and TheSixthAxis, before landing a full time gig at UNILAD in 2016.