Microsoft takes aim at Sony with cloud gaming service

Platform News: Gaming industry and popular games platforms

This coming Tuesday, Microsoft will launch its Xbox cloud gaming service, initially priced at $1 for new users’ first month, in a major drive to attract casual gamers with the promise of cutting ties to the living room and as the battle with Sony heats up.

Subscribers to Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, priced at $14.99 monthly, will be able to play more than 150 games via the cloud on Xbox consoles, Android devices and PCs.

A subscriber won’t need to buy a console to play the games, just have an Android device and a supported controller.

New entrants include Google, which has struggled to build a fanbase for its Stadia service.

“We built this adventure so that it requires as little bandwidth as possible,” said Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft’s head of cloud gaming.

“We’re also working with ISPs around the world to ensure a strong connection between gamers and our Azure datacenters”.

The Xbox Game Pass service has more than 10 million members.

Across the industry, cloud gaming revenue is expected to grow to $4.8 billion by 2023 from nearly $600 million this year, according to Guilherme Fernandes, analyst at gaming analysis vendor Newzoo.

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Subscribers to the Xbox cloud service will be able to play hit titles like “Sea of Thieves” and “Gears 5” as a portion of the monthly fee. The games library is regarded as key for the incumbents looking to maintain their lead.

Analysts expect demand for immersive experiences, via improved sound and images, to induce sales of games consoles, with both Microsoft and Sony launching next-generation apparatus this year. Microsoft said this week that the Xbox Series S will go on sale in November priced at $299.99, with the stronger Xbox Series X priced at $499.99.

Sony Corp, widely seen as the victor of the last generation console battle, offers cloud gaming through the PlayStation Now service, but this is not accessible on mobile devices. Sony hasn’t yet announced pricing for its next-generation PlayStation 5 console.

Gaming numbers and gaming stocks are surging because of demand from users locked down across the world to to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. Microsoft is betting on supplying users a number of ways to play via the cloud consoles and service at different price points to give it an edge.

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A restriction on the increase of cloud gambling is latency, or the time delay between pressing a button and receiving the reaction on screen, with deployment of 5G telecom providers anticipated to speed up its adoption.

Microsoft’s service will not be accessible on Apple devices. Epic Games is currently engaged in a legal dispute with Apple on its commission prices, in a fight seen as having implications for revenue models across the business.

The team at Platform Executive hope you have enjoyed the ‘Microsoft takes aim at Sony with cloud gaming service‘ article. Initial reporting via our official content partners at Thomson Reuters. Reporting by Supantha Mukherjee in Stockholm and Sam Nussey in Tokyo. Editing by Mark Potter.

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