Microsoft is preparing to build a revamped game streaming service that, rather than being exclusive to its Xbox games consoles, would be available to multiple devices and manufacturers, potentially including mobile devices as well as PCs.
The 'Netflix-for-games' service would charge a monthly fee to gamers to stream a catalog of titles over the internet, and players wouldn't be required to purchase each game separately. This would also differ from Microsoft's current Xbox Game Pass offering, which requires each game to be individually downloaded before play.
“Phil [Spencer] really wanted a dedicated team focused exclusively on the gaming cloud,” Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft's cloud computing head honcho, said in an interview with The Verge.
“Those were conversations that started happening last summer, and we really started creating the structure of the organization at the end of last year.”
The joy of a streaming service means that, wherever there's a screen, a Wi-Fi connection and a half decent processor, the games can be played on relatively low powered devices. And that's something Microsoft seems keen to explore.
“We believe there is going to be 2 billion gamers in the world, and our goal is to reach every one of them,” said Choudhry.
“We’re looking at ways to make that content available to anyone no matter what device they’re on."
Microsoft has for a number of years been snapping up companies that could support a cloud gaming push, including Havok, PlayFab and Simplygon. With Nvidia and Sony already offering similar, established services (if not platform agnostic or hugely mainstream yet), the big players clearly see streaming as the way forward. With Microsoft teasing its enhanced streaming service to land within three years, the gaming landscape could be about to shift dramatically.