Every year in June, the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) is thrown in LA. During E3, Publishers, developers, CEOs and gaming related personas talk about their respective upcoming consoles, titles, plans, and strategies. Gaming is an increasingly large business, overtaking the movie industry around 2010 and continuing to boom from there. The growth only continues as the mobile market matures, allowing folks to game outside the confines of their 4 walls and a console.
Something was a little bit different about this year’s E3 however. Several executives of various gaming companies talked about “what’s next” for gaming. Even as console sales continue, savvy businesses need to chart their strategy for an increasingly connected world.
In an interview with The Guardian, head of Microsoft gaming Phil Spencer said: “Our focus is on bringing console quality games that you see on TV or PC to any device. I want to see the creators that I have relationships with reach all two billion people who play games, and not have to turn their studio into something that makes match-3 games rather than story-driven single player games. Because that’s the only way to reach a bigger platform. That is our goal: to bring high-quality games to every device possible on the planet.”
Microsoft has already started to deliver on this vision, allowing Windows PCs to stream Xbox games and vice-e-versa. Just as they’ve done with the business side of their products (Microsoft cloud services such as Office 365 are device/OS agnostic) Microsoft is positioning itself as a consumption advocate in the gaming space. Whether it’s allowing crossplay with Nintendo or releasing mobile versions of popular games, it’s clear that Microsoft is focused more on what you’re playing rather than how you’re playing.
To that end, The Verge reported recently that Microsoft is launching a new cloud gaming division. By positioning Phil Spencer to report directly to Satya Nadella, shuffling internal resources and acquiring a number of gaming related studios, Microsoft has demonstrated that its gaming division is maturing and getting far more investment than in the past. The ultimate goal? To create a games streaming service that allows Microsoft to focus on hosting the hardware used to render increasingly demanding games, and allowing the customer to simply stream that content to the device of their choice. Sound familiar? It should. Microsoft has taken similar steps with Office 365 and Azure specifically. Many businesses want to out of maintaining costly, complex systems. Why not focus on the key aspects of your business by allowing Microsoft to modernize and host legacy infrastructure and applications? Forward thinking businesses have embraced this message and saved on costly hardware replacement, software licensing and avoided downtime by working with Microsoft in this way.
The same message is now being delivered to the gaming consumer. Why purchase several hundred dollars in hardware when all you really need is an internet connection, a couch, and a controller? Or a phone? Or a TV? We’ve already seen a shift inside gaming where there is less focus on the purchase and resale of software and a transition to a digital download model. Once bandwidth and rendering technology improve enough, cloud-streamed games are the logical next step, *especially* for games that are less competitive and more story focused.
Granted, its early days yet, but with internet speeds around the world increasing, cloud services maturing, and more and more youth investing in games as a hobby, you can rest assured Microsoft has the right vision. And with its iterative approach working in the business field, the same methodology will be applied to the gaming sphere. As a lover of games and a consumer of Microsoft products, I’m excited to see this play out.