Microsoft has hired former design director for Google Stadia, Kim Swift, as its senior director for cloud gaming at Xbox, in a major move to develop cloud-based games for its Xbox Cloud Gaming service.
In an interview with Polygon (opens in new tab), Xbox Game Studios publishing head, Peter Wyse, said Swift, who was also also lead designer on the Portal game series, has joined the company “to build a team focused on new experiences in the cloud,” adding that Microsoft’s goal is to create “cloud-native games.”
The Xbox Cloud Gaming service (formerly known as Project xCloud) – which launched for Xbox Game Pass Ultimate subscribers in September last year – allows players to stream Xbox games directly to their smartphones, though at present there have been no titles developed specifically with cloud gaming in mind.
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Our team focuses on three pillars in our games: Community, Innovation and Inclusivity. Today, @K2TheSwift joins us in XGS Publishing to accelerate our Innovation and collaborate with independent studios to build games for the cloud.Welcome to the team, Kim! pic.twitter.com/pM3E5XxyrtJune 21, 2021
Given that all of the games currently playable via Xbox’s Cloud Gaming service were designed to run primarily on existing consoles and PCs, none of them have truly been able to take advantage of the cloud-based platform.
The “new experiences in the cloud” Swift has been tasked with creating for Xbox, then, may refer to games which tap into the platform's multi-server capabilities – potentially meaning faster load times and greater graphical performance, beyond that which a single Xbox Series X (opens in new tab) console can support natively.
The news comes after Microsoft recently announced plans to upgrade its Xbox Cloud Gaming servers to the latest Xbox Series X hardware in a bid to improve gaming quality – further proof that the company is serious about getting cloud gaming right.
Help for Hideo?
Swift joining Microsoft could be music to the ears of Hideo Kojima fans, too, if another report about the hire is to be believed.
The legendary Metal Gear Solid developer had previously expressed an interest (opens in new tab) in making a cloud-native game for Google Stadia, before Google closed its in-house game development studios in February.
But rumors (opens in new tab) suggest Kojima is now in negotiations with Microsoft to have the studio exclusively publish his next game, and a VentureBeat report (opens in new tab) claims Swift has been brought in specifically to help the developer with the technical aspects of his as-yet-unnamed project. It's noted, though, that these negotiations remain just that – so it’s worth considering the partnership between Kojima Productions and Microsoft as merely speculative, at this point.
In any case, Microsoft’s acquisition of a celebrated alumni of both Google Stadia and Valve is a sign that the future is bright for Xbox’s still-young Cloud Gaming service – as well as that of the gaming industry as a whole.
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Via The Verge (opens in new tab)