Microsoft and Sony usually battle it out for dominance in console video games. But in the growing realm of cloud gaming, in which games stream over the internet just as Netflix does, the two tech titans have decided to team up.
Their collaboration, announced on Thursday, focuses on developing improved cloud delivery of games and other content, as well as delivery of Sony's current services using Microsoft Azure data center platform. The two companies will also join forces on developing smart image sensors using Sony's sensor capabilities and Microsoft's artificial intelligence technology.
Both Microsoft and Sony currently deliver digital games via their own subscription services. Games delivered via cloud computing networks appear to be the next evolutionary stage for video games.
Microsoft is expected to begin public testing of its Project xCloud game-streaming service later this year. Google plans to launch its Stadia cloud gaming service later this year, and Electronic Arts is working on its own streaming service, too.
Amazon, which owns the Twitch video game streaming platform, is reportedly developing its own game streaming service as well, and Chinese internet company and game maker Tencent is testing its own system, too.
"Sony needed an infrastructure partner to remain competitive as cloud gaming and cloud services start to gain traction," said Piers Harding-Rolls, director and head of games research and lead AR/VR analyst for IHS Markit in a commentary on the Microsoft-Sony deal. "Microsoft has deep expertise in relation to games service deployment in Azure and it is building out its own cloud gaming service in Azure – it is likely this has an impact on Sony’s thinking when deciding on a partner."