Microsoft Partners with Sony … on Gaming?!

Posted on May 16, 2019 by Paul Thurrott in Games, Microsoft with 48 Comments

In a surprise announcement, Microsoft revealed today that it is partnering with video game rival Sony on game streaming.

“Sony and Microsoft will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services,” the Microsoft announcement notes. “In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services. By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers. These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.”

My, my. What an interesting turn of events. Sony, the current market leader in video games, lacks the global cloud computing infrastructure that will be needed to drive the coming generation of cloud-based game streaming services. But Microsoft, an also-ran in video games today, has that infrastructure. I had always figured that the software giant would partner with smaller players—Nintendo, perhaps—as well as individual game publishers.

Less interesting, Sony and Microsoft will also partner on AI.

“By integrating Sony’s cutting-edge image sensors with Microsoft’s Azure AI technology in a hybrid manner across cloud and edge, as well as solutions that leverage Sony’s semiconductors and Microsoft cloud technology, the companies aim to provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers,” the announcement continues. “In terms of AI, the parties will explore incorporation of Microsoft’s advanced AI platform and tools in Sony consumer products, to provide highly intuitive and user-friendly AI experiences.”

“Our mission is to seamlessly evolve PlayStation as a plaform that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere,” Sony president and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida says. “For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content. Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society.”

“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”

I need some time to digest this. But this is big news.

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