Gone are the days when console wars and exclusive titles were where the fiery competition between gaming companies took place. The battleground of the 2020s is in the cloud, meaning Xbox now finds itself vying with Amazon and Google.
Xbox head Phil Spencer revealed, in an interview with tech publication Protocol, that he no longer sees Nintendo and Sony as immediate threats. Spencer explained that the two companies, previously Xbox’s main competitors, are unable to craft effective cloud-gaming experiences that could pose a credible challenge. Instead, he has his sights set on Silicon Valley giants Amazon and Google, which are pushing their way into the cloud gaming market.
“When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward,” Spencer said. “That’s not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position.”
Spencer told Protocol that Microsoft would instead collaborate on crossplay integration rather than compete with fellow legacy gaming companies in yet another console war focused primarily on hardware sales. This would allow Microsoft to turn its attention to newcomers Amazon and Google, both of which have lofty “game anywhere” ambitions but are more than willing to edge out the brands of gaming’s past to do so.
“I don’t want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to 7 billion people around the world. Ultimately, that’s the goal,” he said.
Cloud-gaming services, including Google Stadia and the recently released GeForce Now by Nvidia, face a long road to 7 billion players. Amazon is even more behind, with no official word on a cloud-gaming service of its own. It has a department of game services and studios, and also owns streaming site Twitch, but otherwise largely avoids the fray of the gaming industry, at least publicly.
Meanwhile, Microsoft will work on keeping its feet in the traditional and cloud-gaming markets at the same time. Its fourth-generation Xbox Series X will launch this holiday season alongside its competition, Sony’s PlayStation 5. Simultaneously, Microsoft aims to perfect its cloud-gaming service xCloud, which is currently in public preview ahead of its expected full release later this year.
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