We haven’t gotten to the next generation yet and rhetoric is already starting to heat up…somewhat. Let’s just say that when Xbox’s boss Phil Spencer speaks, people pay attention. And this time we’re all trying to figure out what he’s alluding to as far as the future is concerned – especially given how hard Google has stumbled with Stadia right out of the gates.
You see, Spencer thinks that Redmond’s major competitors in the video gaming space in the future are Google and retail giant Amazon, not Sony or Nintendo as it is now currently imagined. Why does Spencer think that? Well, it probably boils down to the “games as a service” idea and the belief that streaming is going to be huge someday soon. Or, if you’re more conspiratorially minded, it could be the Xbox division downplaying expectations about the next-gen machine when compared to the PlayStation 5 which is already shaping up to be a titan of entertainment.
Specifically, Spencer said, “When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward. That’s not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but we’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years.”
But wait. Before you get too excited consider this: Microsoft isn’t necessarily writing off their current competition. They actually envision a future wherein Nintendo and Sony work with Microsoft using their Azure-based cloud tech to power gaming experiences in the future. Naturally, as skeptics will point out, gaming technology could accelerate beyond what we are currently capable of streaming thus making all of this a bunch of hot air. But, more importantly, the streaming argument doesn’t seem to consider new, emergent areas like mobile gaming and virtual reality. The future might be the cloud, but the cloud might not provide 100% coverage, the thinking goes.
Plus, we can’t ignore the core issue of what powers all of this, and it isn’t technology; it’s gameplay. If the games are there and the experience is comparable, there’s a bright future for streaming games. But the idea that gamers are going to accept something less or that we will somehow wake up in a world where the technology that underpins everything is more important than the games themselves is probably not going to happen. So, here’s to hoping Microsoft has some hot games up their sleeves for the next gen to match their cutting-edge technology.
What do you think? Are Amazon and Google Microsoft’s main competitors in the gaming department in the future or do you think the Redmond company is already trying to hedge its bets as far as competing with the next-gen PlayStation 5 (after all, this generation has very much been a Sony story)? Let us know your thoughts on this story and the future of Microsoft’s gaming division in the comments section below.