One big benefit of technical advancement is that it raises the bar for everyone. Any big product development starts with a trailblazer. Just think about smartphones and digital cameras and smart TVs — you probably think of a specific brand that started the trend.
From copycats to knockoffs, huge leaps in most industries affect every product in that space. But when it comes to gaming, a lot of things are marked as “proprietary” and hidden away from the public or the competition.
Console spaces become walled gardens where the only way to experience something is to invest in a $500 console and completely buy into the ecosystem. It’s rare to see a hardware manufacturer pulling back the curtain.
But lately, Microsoft has been doing just that.
The Xbox team’s new initiative is making video games accessible for everyone. And so Microsoft as a whole is going outside the boundaries of its platform. By breaking tradition, Microsoft wants to make gaming better for every player, no matter what device or console you prefer.
Better Software Behind The Scenes
As one of the most successful and profitable organizations in the world, Microsoft is exploring a lot of different paths for the future. Things have come a long way since the days of Windows 97.
But the recent advancements with Azure — a cloud computer service — is perhaps one of Microsoft’s most successful ventures this decade. Last year, Azure was being used by more than 95% of Fortune 500 companies. And Microsoft’s “Intelligent Cloud” division generated almost $15 billion in revenue so far this year, which is a 31% increase from last year.
Azure’s success has opened new doors, whether that is partnerships or potential integrations across other Microsoft-owned products. And in one of the most unlikely partnerships in the gaming world, Microsoft and Sony teamed up for a cloud streaming deal.
This partnership is the best of both worlds. It leverages Microsoft’s engineering talents and the “power of the cloud” to manage background processes for Sony’s PlayStation platform. That, in turn, allows Sony to focus on the front-facing pieces that most heavily impact gamers.
Additionally, it’s worth paying attention to Microsoft’s focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. That might not have an obvious effect on how most players experience games, but it will provide new capabilities for developers, which leads to better user experiences.
Smarter interfaces will allow services like Xbox Game Pass to become as intuitive and personalized as Spotify’s playlists or Netflix’s recommendations, creating a computer catered experience for customers.
And Azure provides other companies — even competitors like Sony — with access to those benefits.
Better Hardware For More Players
Microsoft’s profitability affords the Xbox team (and the organization as a whole) to try things that other gaming companies just can’t. Xbox’s Game Pass is widely considered the “best deal in gaming,” granting access to hundreds of games for as low as $10 a month. But it’s hard to make something like that profitable, which Microsoft has openly admitted.
The same can be said of the Adaptive Controller. When a team at Microsoft set out to develop a fully customizable controller, the goal was clear: Help gamers with limited mobility find ways to enjoy the hobby they love.
It began as an experiment, something the Xbox engineers doubted would ever see the light of day. But when the team at Xbox showed prototypes to partners like AbleGamers, they knew they couldn’t keep it to themselves.
And so Microsoft released the product, despite the fact that it would never be profitable. The Adaptive Controller would help a lot of people, and allow the Xbox team to double down on their promise to make gaming accessible to everyone, everywhere.
Yes, Microsoft wants Xbox to succeed. The recent launch of the Xbox Series X brought record sales for the company, and Xbox Game Pass has already attracted over 15 million monthly subscribers on console, PC, and mobile devices.
But at the end of the day, the Xbox team is still only one small part of a much larger organization. And Microsoft’s willingness to pool its software and hardware is making a big difference for gamers everywhere.
In fact, Microsoft has established a history of leveraging the resources from one area to improve others, even if they’re outside the traditional tech space. Lucky for us, this time it’s the gamers who get to benefit, regardless of where or how we play our games.
Guest Post by Drew Gula.
Drew is the copywriter at Soundstripe, a stock media company that provides creators and businesses with tools like royalty free music and storyboard templates.