When one conjures up the realm of video games, the iconic adventures of Lara Croft in the Tomb Raider series might spring to mind. It’s titles like these, dripping with intricate narratives and enveloping universes, that gamers have adored for decades. And with evolving technology, the way we access these worlds is undergoing a seismic shift. The tech titan Microsoft, for instance, is signaling a profound change in this direction.
Microsoft‘s ambition, as seen from a trove of internal emails emerging from the FTC v. Microsoft case, is to bring the vast universe of PC games to more audiences via cloud streaming. While Microsoft’s Xbox Cloud Gaming service currently streams a slew of Xbox titles, a conspicuous gap exists: the inability to stream native PC games. These emails, however, hint at a future where this is no longer the case.
Satya Nadella, the CEO of Microsoft, discussed this topic with Phil Spencer, the head honcho at Xbox, along with cloud gaming lead Kareem Choudhry and Xbox creator experience chief Sarah Bond. Their exchanges were triggered by the winds of change at Google. The tech behemoth was said to be pivoting Stadia, its cloud gaming offering, into a developer-friendly platform. What’s noteworthy here is that Microsoft isn’t sitting back.
Nadella’s inquisitiveness was met with Spencer’s confirmation that they were indeed brewing an Azure-based solution. Spencer’s elucidation on leveraging Azure GPU for streaming PC games is riveting, given that it suggests a future where developers and publishers could tap into a similar, expansive platform. Choudhry’s response further solidifies this notion, mentioning collaborative efforts to manifest an Azure SKU tailored to streaming PC games from the cloud.
But the journey hasn’t been all rosy. Whispers from insiders hint at a slowdown in Xbox Cloud Gaming’s development. While Microsoft had promised an enriched game library by the end of 2022, this vision hasn’t materialized yet. There was also the axing of the dedicated subscription model for Xbox Cloud Gaming, which raised eyebrows.
However, glimmers of Microsoft’s ambitions shimmered through when they teased the possibility of PC games on Xbox Cloud Gaming. This was evident when British mobile network EE inked a decade-long pact with Microsoft, aiming to deliver Xbox PC games to their customers. The interesting tidbit? EE currently doesn’t sport a streaming service. This alliance strongly suggests that Microsoft’s Azure service for PC game streaming might be closer to fruition than we think.
Phil Spencer’s emails were also an insightful peek into the gaming landscape. While he opined on Google’s direction with Stadia, Spencer was candid about viewing nVidia’s GeForce Now as their most formidable adversary. Though Stadia was on Microsoft’s radar, their real challenge lay with the likes of nVidia and Amazon’s Luna.
Fast forward to today, Google‘s decision to sunset Stadia in early 2023 wasn’t a shocker to many who followed the trails.
The gaming arena is in flux. As tech behemoths like Microsoft jostle for a commanding position, one thing is clear: the frontier of cloud-based PC game streaming is brimming with potential. For fans of epic games like Tomb Raider, a future where the adventures of Lara Croft are but a click away on any device could soon be a reality. The game, as they say, is on.
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