Microsoft and Sony have been fierce rivals when it comes to gaming starting from 2001 when Microsoft’s Xbox challenged the Sony PlayStation 2. However, in an unusual announcement yesterday, Microsoft and Sony signed a memorandum of understanding to jointly explore the development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services.
Sony and Microsoft will also explore collaboration in the areas of semiconductors and AI. For semiconductors, they will jointly develop new intelligent image sensor solutions. In terms of AI, the parties will incorporate Microsoft’s AI platform and tools in Sony’s consumer products. Microsoft in a statement said, “these efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community,” seemingly stating that both companies will probably partner on future services aimed at creators and the gaming community.
Rivals turned to Allies
Sony’s decision to keep aside the rivalry and partner with Microsoft makes sense because of two main reasons. First, cloud streaming is considered the next big thing in gaming. Only three companies Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have enough cloud experience to present viable, modern cloud infrastructure. Although Sony has enough technical competence to build its own cloud streaming service, it makes sense to deploy via Microsoft’s Azure than scaling its own distribution systems. Microsoft is also happy to extend a welcoming hand to a customer as large as Sony. Moreover, neither Sony nor Microsoft is going to commit to focus on game streaming completely, as both already have consoles currently in development. This is unlike Amazon and Google, who are going to go full throttle in building game streaming. It makes sense that Sony chose to go with Microsoft putting enough resources into these efforts, and going so far as to collaborate, showing that they understand game streaming is something not to be looked down on for not having.
Second, this partnership is also likely a direct competition to Google’s Stadia game streaming service, unveiled at Game Developers Conference 2019. Stadia is a cloud-based game streaming platform that aims to bring together, gamers, YouTube broadcasters, and game developers “to create a new experience”. The games get streamed from any data center to any device that can connect to the internet like TV, laptop, desktop, tablet, or mobile phone. Gamers can access their games anytime and virtually on any screen. And, game developers will be able to use nearly unlimited resources for developing games. Since all the graphics processing happens on off-site hardware, there will be little stress on your local hardware.
“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” says Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”
Twitter was filled with funny memes on this alliance and its direct contest with Stadia.
All of Nintendo Microsoft and Sony's characters taking on Stadia. pic.twitter.com/pLKkwioETM
— Haitcher boy (@MikieDaytona) May 16, 2019
Footage of Sony and Microsoft making their deal pic.twitter.com/bKa7tVYDSe
— ShaunFest @E3 (@shaunlabrie) May 16, 2019
my reaction to Sony and Microsoft suddenly, not just ending their console war, but teaming up to take Google down… like WHAT pic.twitter.com/fgqXscwkdf
— Kettle O Tea ⚪️ (@kettleotea) May 16, 2019
Going forward, the two companies will share additional information when available. Read the official announcement here.