Sega teams with Microsoft for a cloud gaming 'strategic alliance'

Sonic Unleashed
(Image credit: Sega)

Sega has revealed a new "strategic alliance" with Microsoft to develop "large-scale, global games in a next-generation development environment built on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform," now known as Xbox Cloud Gaming.

As spotted by VGC, the new partnership forms part of Sega's mid-to-long-term initiative to develop titles in line with the company's core pillars – "global," "online," "community," and "IP utilization" – to create what it dubs a "super game" in the next five years.

"This proposed alliance represents Sega looking ahead," Sega said via a statement, " working with Microsoft to anticipate such trends as they accelerate further in future, the goal is to optimize development processes and continue to bring high-quality experiences to players using Azure cloud technologies."

"Microsoft and Sega have agreed upon the foundation for this alliance and through mutual cooperation, will look to build further technological evolutions with areas such as the network infrastructure and communication tools required for global online services being a key priority," the statement continues.

"Additionally, by shifting to a next-generation development platform, Sega can effectively adapt to diversifying work styles and potential infrastructural changes."

Microsoft is equally pleased with the arrangement, it seems. In a separate statement, Microsoft CVP Sarah Bond said: “Sega has played such an iconic role in the gaming industry and has been a tremendous partner over the years. We look forward to working together as they explore new ways to create unique gaming experiences for the future using Microsoft cloud technologies.

"Together we will reimagine how games get built, hosted, and operated, with a goal of adding more value to players and Sega alike."

Analysis: what's special about cloud gaming?

As we detail in our feature "Which cloud gaming service is best for you?", cloud gaming gets rid of the expensive gaming rig, console, or television set-top box required for traditional gaming. All of the games are streamed over the internet and broadcast to your device. All you need is a fast internet connection.

Cloud gaming services typically bill a monthly subscription fee, but for that price, you can usually stream to any device, including mobile phones. Some games do require their own peripherals to work, but buying a controller is cheaper than buying a full gaming console. 

Gaming in the cloud will consume a lot of data, so it's wise to check with your ISP or mobile data provider and get on an unlimited plan before starting. It also can't quite match the experience of gaming natively on a dedicated piece of hardware, but there's no doubt that cloud gaming has come on leaps and bounds in recent years.

Microsoft is rolling out Xbox Cloud Gaming to consoles this holiday, which will let Xbox One owners play Xbox Series X and Xbox Series S games that aren't playable on the older consoles due to its weaker hardware. 

Xbox Cloud Gaming is available to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers and can be currently accessed on Android, iOS and PC.