We've been hearing about Microsoft's internal cloud gaming initiatives for a while now, with plans to fund and help develop “cloud native” games. Now, the Xbox team is making this more official, announcing its new cloud-focused games publishing arm at GDC.
Previously, we've heard that Microsoft is in talks to publish a few cloud-native games, including one from Kojima Productions. At one point, Microsoft was also involved with the MMO ‘Pax Dei', but the deal may have been scrapped.
Xbox's cloud gaming division will be run by Kim Swift, who previously worked as a designer and artist at Valve, and was also a game design director at Stadia before Google pulled the plug on developing first-party games.
As for what cloud-native means for games, Microsoft envisions these as titles that use the cloud to process portions of the game, like AI, physics, lighting, environments. This is something we've already seen Microsoft demonstrate before with Crackdown 3, where destruction physics were handled by Azure servers.
Don't expect cloud to take priority over Microsoft's support for local PC and console gaming yet though. The company still views cloud gaming as “in its infancy”, but wants to be ready and at the forefront when technology catches up – similarly to how Netflix was ready to dominate the TV and movie streaming market after starting out as a DVD rental service.
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KitGuru Says: Microsoft has set up a publishing arm to focus on cloud games, but no titles have been officially announced at this stage. Hopefully after GDC is up, we'll get some updates on that front.