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Microsoft and Sony partner for game streaming and other technologies

What you need to know

  • Microsoft and Sony will partner on gaming streaming technology going forward.
  • The two companies will collaborate on image sensors.
  • They also aim to create user-friendly AI experiences.

Today might be a day for the history books. Microsoft and Sony just announced a partnership (opens in new tab) to focus on innovations to "enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms." This means that the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud technology related to game and content-streaming services. That's not all though, the statement added that the two will also explore the use of Microsoft Azure for Sony's streaming services. In order to grow its online ambitions, Sony needed to partner with an established cloud provider.

Microsoft and Sony will also collaborate on semiconductors and artificial intelligence (AI). When it comes to semiconductors, both parties will focus on image sensors. The statement went on to say that by "integrating Sony's cutting-edge image sensors with Microsoft's Azure... technology... the companies aim to provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers." When it comes to AI, the two want to focus on user-friendly experiences which can help customers in their day-to-day lives.

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Sony President Kenichiro Yoshida said the following when discussing the partnership.

Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality. PlayStation itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology. Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. 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.

Microsoft's Satya Nadella also shared a few words about the announcement.

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

It's clear that the focus is definitely on gaming here. It'll be interesting to see what this collaboration produces in the future. This is an exciting time to be a gamer! Who would've thought Microsoft and Sony would come together in such a meaningful way?

Negotiations with Microsoft began last year and were handled directly by Sony's senior management in Tokyo, largely without the involvement of the PlayStation unit, according to people familiar with the matter. Staff at the gaming division were caught off-guard by the news. Managers had to calm workers and assure them that plans for the company's next-generation console weren't affected, said the people, asking not to be identified discussing private matters.

What are your thoughts on this announcement? What do you hope to see from the partnership? Let us know.

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Asher Madan handles gaming news for Windows Central. Before joining Windows Central in 2017, Asher worked for a number of different gaming outlets. He has a background in medical science and is passionate about all forms of entertainment, cooking, and antiquing.

52 Comments
  • I can only imagine heads popping all across the gaming universe as this news propagates. :D
  • They already are if you check out gaming websites.
  • Sony was kind of screwed in the future here... Unlike Microsoft, they don't have a 6B global cloud infrastructure, they can't go
    to google who is looking to enter this space with Stadia and they can't
    go to Amazon who is likely planning the same thing. So they would have
    to sit back and watch Microsoft potentially dominate in this space as
    the only company on the planet with gaming IP, existing studio relationships &
    global cloud infrastructure. Nintendo is likely next. With Microsoft owning Playfab, Visual Studios, Simplygon, Havok &
    Azure, they are now in position to make money in some way off every
    major AAA game released in the future.
  • Most developed Asia countries have higher population density, internet is much cheaper there. But country like Australia or America... unfortunate. Mobile internet? When can human expect some cheap, reliable, uncapped internet no mater where we go, across continents? How about internet on the flight? On an express train / subway? In a basement of some coffee store or restaurant? We'll still need native solutions.
    That's why MS invested in techs like kahawai. When your internet failed you, your game will continue running at low fps + high detail or high fps + low detail. And in our living room, Game Plays Best on Xbox.
  • That's true. Sony is way behind the curve when it comes to cloud infrastructure. They almost have no other choice but to team up with MS going forward.
  • Not surprised at all. Sony will eventually be like Sega and just do software, as we progress forward and further into the cloud based future there will be no need for Sony to make any hardware consoles. The future brings our game library to every device not just a TV. Nintendo might have a better chance of not jumping on board by continuing to create app's for phones and such but eventually I believe they will either join ms or Google also.
  • Like you said "cloud base future", there won't be a need for a console, period, not from Sony or Microsoft
  • Microsoft will go software only as well, it's inevitable, you'll have a PlayStation app and an Xbox app on your TV, that's it.
  • Hmmm you'll need to have infrastructure deployed before they can a e the hardware and on a global scale it's not there yet... Heck even in the US simple very high speed internet with low latency, with no cap and no throttling is still not the norm... 5G might help but we are not there yet either.
    Then you have the issue of smart TVs needing some hardware still to run the app properly... I think even if all is ready for transporting data you'll still need a dongle at least on the TV to ensure some form of uniformity between platforms... Kind of like a fire TV or Apple TV stick/box
  • Not necessarily, If phones can handle streaming then so will TV's, that's the whole point of it being streaming, you don't need dedicated hardware. Large countries are always going to be slower to roll out physical infrastructure, but that doesn't mean technology should halt. If anything implementation of this would help to push for better services so it's a win-win. As an aside, I'm not saying this will happen soon, although I do expect it within the next ten years.
  • I hope this means Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft can make cross play an enjoyable reality for all.
  • Let's take that a step further... I hope this will eventually lead to some Sony exclusive games being playable on Xbox One, and vise versa. At least in the streaming service.
  • Let's take it one more step further, Sony will eventually stop making Consoles and just focus on making quality content for the future generations leaving the Xbox the Only Box to Play, Stream, Connect.
  • You won't need any box at that point. That is the promise of steaming.
  • Slow day? I see you came here to Troll, but even you couldn't find anything to complain about. I bet you're pissed off by that. Sad life you live😭😭😭
  • The only person I see trolling here is you.
    I don't know what's your history with the guy but can you at least stay on topic, please?
  • Well, it takes one to know one right?
  • Hey, dude. IDK who you are, and could give a rats ass, so just stop while you're ahead. It's not like anything you're gonna say is gonna matter to me any way. I have my reasons, and if you don't know why, then that's your problem. If it's not then don't make it your problem... Trust me, quit trying to be a hero, and move on.
  • You must be some kind of keyboard warrior. LOL
    Looks like you didn't understand my first comment. :)
    Just reply to the topic. Keep it gaming...
  • @Johnathan
    That would be disastrous. Competition is good. Companies competing against each other by trying to outdo the other with quality games.
    Look at Steam. When was the last time Valve made a major game?
  • It'll all be app based, no one will make a console because it's a waste of money developing consoles.
  • Switch and PS4 helps make big profits for their companies. Console helps people get into an ecosystem and makes them stay in it.
    Having a close ecosystem helps companies force companies to milk their customers with stuff like "pay to play online".
  • @Vincent
    My problem with this is that these company used to invest a lot of money in making quality games because they are trying to sell their console.
    If these games are on other consoles then there would be less incentive to invest money into making games and gaming.
    I understand that for a consumer it would be great to have all games on one platform.
    But as a gamer, I'm looking at the bigger picture. Games is and will always be my priority.
  • In the near future you'll buy subscription services instead of consoles, sort of like choosing between Netflix or Hulu or simply having them all, with the cost of the console out of the way it'll make sense to pay for those subscriptions
  • @argeniszurita
    But that's not a fact. It's just speculation and prediction. Now, I'm sure a companies like MS would love to have a digital streaming closed ecosystem where they control everything, but I believe gamers can have a say in the future of video game industry. I think this is different from streaming movies or music. Almost everyone watch movies and listen to music. But not everyone is into video games. The gaming crowd can be very vocal about things and if it's possible they just won't do what companies tells them to do.
    We've seen it in 2013 when MS tried that all digital console world. We've seen it when MS tried to ask PC gamers to pay to play online.
    Because there was competition gamers could tell MS to **** off with their policies. I think as long as companies will make consoles and physical discs. And as long as there will be platforms that sells content the conventional way, I don't see that 100% streaming world that you talk about.
  • To be fair, a lot of things about the Xbox One vision in 2012-2013 that gamers feared and told MS to get bent over, they now demand or expect. Hell, even I wasn't into the Xbox One at the inital announcement, and I was pissed when the handicapped the Connect on the 360 before they released it! Especially having a camera and microphone in every corner of their house. 'Oh hey Google, didn't realize you were spying on my every word of conversation. I'll just get this device that Amazon for some reason knows I was thinking about buying.'
  • What? What exactly do gamer want?
    Are gamers demanding for an all digital console? Are they expecting or demanding DRM and 24 hours check? Do gamers want kinect with every console?
  • They now want a console that is always on, or at least always connected to the internet like all their other devices. They do want a Kinect with every console, they just want it built in to the console and not pay extra or to have a VR head set capability. They do want the ability to play their whole library instantly without having to get their lazy asses up off the sitting device to search for a disc. By the way, the console already does a DRM check every time you run the game or checking your account purchases, it's called reading the disc. I even encountered a bug where XBL wouldnt let me launch my disc based game by telling me I had to purchase it. You keep referring to gamers as people with a set mind set. Those might be the loudest ones, but gamers are now a wide range.
  • I'm sorry buy who exactly are "They"? Let me know which gamers want less options? Let me know which gamers want games to only work if internet is connected. Let me know which gamers want DRM checks? Let me know which gamers actually want Kinect built in with every console?
    And people do want options like VR capability but that has nothing to do with forcing everyone to buy a VR headset with a console. While people prefer digital and others prefer physical games, it needs to be seen if majority WANTS to be restricted to only digital.
    MS never communicates on actual numbers but lucky for us Sony does. Sony released the ration of all digital sales vs physical. Digital was at 32% for the FY 2017. 37% for Q3 2018. Since 2016 it's been going between 27% to 43%.
    And that includes games that are digital-only. If we take only games that have physical+digital versions the number should be a lot more towards physical games. These are actual numbers of console gamers. Not the "loudest people". Let's face it, the 2013 policies that gamers feared were mostly restrictions. Here you talk about gamers wanting, expecting and demanding restrictions. Besides people who are fans of company over gaming, I don't see who wants restrictions...
  • "They" refers to normal technogy users, which I know doesn't only include hardcore gamers, but like I said the demographic is changing as gaming is becoming more mainstream. I find it hard to believe that you don't think that the majority doest want voice recognition in their console when they will buy as many Dots or Hubs as they can afford. Also, think of video capabilites the people want that they have in their basic phones now, along with the facial recognition function that is missing from their W10 PC or high end phone. Motion control was of course gimmicky, but as VR is coming into view it becomes more necessary. Like I said, people want these features because they expect them now considering the technogy is everywhere. People just don't want to be forced to pay EXTRA for these functions. As far as digital, I'm not saying that digital only is a totally great thing in the end, but considering people are more than willing to be all digital with everything else in their lives (think of phones), then this will probably happen. I think the current numbers are more of a function of price and not preference if costs were all the same. You are also only stating the negatives of digital and not the benifits it can bring (which may not be for you, but they are for some). Not everything about the XB1 vision was a restriction (though I do admit most were, which is why I didn't buy one at launch), some of those things are just how things are now. Especially the always connect aspect.
  • Now, if you're trying to say that people now want more feature without the need to pay more money for it then yes sure. But that was probably the same in 2013. Kinect was forced on consumers and that made the console more expensive. If the XB1 had kinect at launch and that made it a bit cheaper than the PS4 then I'm sure people would have been less against the thing. I don't think it's fair to talk about phones when talking digital. There is no physical media for phones. It's digital primarily.
    The numbers I posted clearly shows that there is still a majority of PS4 console games that are being sold physically (for whatever reason) and that doesn't even include the used game market. So there are clearly a big percentage of PS4 console gamers that buy and play physical games. And again for whatever reason that's how it is. Physical games are cheaper? Well ok but why is that a problem? It's just one of the advantage why it's popular. "You are also only stating the negatives of digital and not the benefits it can bring (which may not be for you, but they are for some)."
    But once again, you're trying to make it into a digital vs physical debate. Sure, there may advantage of a digital game over a physical game. But here we have a physical + digital. there is no advantage of a digital-only vs a digital+physical. (When MS launched their digital-only console, they could have made "price" and advantage but they failed to do it). I didn't say everything in the 2013 vision was restriction. I said "the 2013 policies that gamers feared". because you were talking of what "gamers feared" in your original comment.
  • You are right, I guess isunderstood your response. I wasn't trying to turn it to a digital vs physical discussion, I thought you were, but I see now you were talking about the SAD XB1 only and not the original XB1when referencing your digital monopoly point again. I don't think you CAN separate phones from the discussion though and from people's expectations of how software should work and be delivered. The fact is that people now expect an app to do everything for them and don't want to learn how a PC works to use them. They also expect to go to one place to get them, the app store. This is one of the things that will push gaming to be all digital. How many sales on PC now are physical discs? This should have been the first medium affected. This is a long drawn out argument that has already been done, but it IS a problem that disc's prices fall drastically vs the digital counterpart. I know this is for a few different reasons, inventory mostly, but digital cost nothing to produce but a disc does. So off the bat digital should be cheaper since you get less. Even better for disc's is you can sell them later, so they should be more for that reason as well. This is and always has been an unfair thing to gamers. MS made it a little better with XPA, but even that isn't taking off like they would have wanted for thrid party titles (why would it have anyway?).
  • Wasn't the original vision of the XB1 basically an only digital version? You can talk about mobile phones and even what's going on with PC gaming if you want but the thing is that these are all different platforms. They each have advantages and disadvantages. Consoles have always had the advantage of having the ability to have physical games. It's one of the advantage and along with it comes the used games market. The disadvantage of console vs PC for example is that it is a closed ecosystem and console gamers are forced to pay to play online or gamers have a lot less freedom with the hardware and software modifications. What MS did in 2013 was trying to take out one of the advantage while keeping most of the disadvantage of console gaming. When they said that the price of games would be the same as physical games in 2013 a lot of gamers were upset.
    And that's why I say it's unfair to compare platforms without considering all advantage and disadvantages... Do you think that if MS does the same thing like in 2013 for this new generations, people would be happy? I really don't think so, that's why they are doing it slowly slowly...
  • To be honest I never really understood the original vision of the games on XB1. I never really cared to learn it, because they did such a piss poor job of presenting the console. From what I understood, this was a digital license that you could transfer (or at least lend) later. You also have to consider this was around the same time that EA and others were doing the same thing for their MP passes to screw used product gamers, so it wasn't just MS being the money grabbing A-Holes in the room, but it was a more extreme version of it. I'm not trying to make direct comparisons to platforms, what I'm saying is that other technogoly people use influence what they want from the rest of their things they buy. Why do you think vehicles starting using touch screen infotainment systems? Even screens on refrigerators are going to become expected as there are a few models out there.
  • The initial vision was preventing trading and lending games totally. After the initial announcement and backlash they made a bunch of announcement including MS getting a cut whenever there was a transfer of digital licence to a game. The 2013 vision brought a lot of things that only benefited MS.
  • @ Guest I certainly see that point, hopefully it will end up being more like the current Amazon, Hulu and Netflix situation, where each are dumping millions, if not billions, into original content to get new subscribers (or keep current ones) on their service. In fact, if you look deeper into Netflix it parallels this gaming growth era even more. Back when they were disc only, they HAD TO start streaming to survive, yet people didn't see the value in that, including investers. Now look at them, streaming is the default and hard discs are barely even secondary (see the connection?). In fact, some people (maybe even most) don't even know they still rent discs too. It might take gaming a bit longer to get there as DVDs played on any player, but eventually I can see a future where there is little value in having to have 3 different boxes on your TV stand just to play games. Especially when a customer can now just use their smart TV app to play all three with no further hardware investment.
  • Like I told argeniszurita. I think this is different from what happened with Netflix.
    The reason why I think movie and music streaming works is because what's being sold is a library of a lot of movies and music. Most of the content is things that people haven't seen. For most this is their primary way of watching movies or listening to music.
    In the case of something like game pass or even PSNow, most gamers would have already played the games present. This can't be the primary way of playing games for most. Many people are telling that game pass let's them test game they wouldn't have played otherwise. Gamers still buy new games at launch. As for casuals, the question is are they really interested in playing these old mostly arcade games... Not everyone wants to use apps to stream games. I think most still prefer to own their games.
    I don't think Sony and Nintendo at least will move away from making consoles if there is a market.
    If companies stop making consoles then I feel a lot of gamers who like to buy their games would move towards PC. I think PC gaming will still be there regardless.
  • Key word , "still".I think what we are talking about is at least 10 years out. This again falls in line with the current streaming timeline. Remember, some still don't stream TV or Movies. They may also not listen to Music streams also as they own music. I fall in the latter myself, but I stream video and own little. The fact that this is not the majority now means very little to how the future will turn out. Netflix proves this. Also, my main point was even though these companies may not make a console in the future, they will still pour tons of money into making games (or at least paying for licenses) as they need to keep people on their service.
  • The way I see it is right now, a lot of companies sees the potential of game streaming. What these companies mostly see is the potential of making loads of continuous money. But for that to work they need a whole lot of gamers to be subscribed to their service. For that to happen they first need to make their service popular and then maybe killing off the current video gaming setup. If people don't have the choice they will be forced to subscribe and stream.
    This is a slow process. After the failure of 2013, MS have decided to take it a lot slower. It's starting with these services. Services to play old games.
    BC the ability to play old games increases your library without needing to invest that much on making new games.
    Game pass the ability to make gamers rent mostly old games.
    Adding their new releases to game pass. The ability to rent new releases. But most of these games are "Games as a service", meaning games are release in a state and content is kept being included. This means that the player needs to be subscribed to get the full experience. These are the games that are designed for game pass.
    And ofc since most these games have multiplayer, players are almost obliged to have the gold subscription
    Digital-only; Release a digital-only console trying to push the debate into a digital vs physical world. When in reality it is a digital+ physical vs digital-only world.
    The studio acquisitions. Buying some 2nd party and small 3rd party studios to increase the number of studios so that thera are around the same number of studios making games for XB as there was at the start of the XB1 generation. This is a way to try to remove that image that XB hardly invest in making quality games.
    And now the XCloud. We'll need to see more details (hopefully at E3) but this looks like the final piece of the puzzle. While you talk about 10 years, I would think that it'll all depend on how streaming does. Right now I think MS's vision is all digital, all service future. But MS are keeping their options open. They still have consoles. At the end my priority is games. About these acquisitions, I think the ideal case is that MS gives all these studios 100% creative freedom to make the games they want. There is another case where MS tells the studios, make games as a service. Games that are designed for the MS services. And finally the worst case is that MS keeps losing money and decide to close these studios and projects because they aren't worth it (just like they did this generation).
  • So, AWS has nothing. That's basically what this means. If Sony was choosing between the two biggest cloud providers to support its game streaming platform and it chooses its primary competitor, that means it only had one option.
  • With gaming azure has always had the upper hand on AWS... There is no news here...
  • That explains the weather outside today; Hell just froze over.
  • At this stage, I'm not really sure what all this means.
    So Sony will use Azure to stream their games to their players. Will something like XCloud or Game pass end up on PS5?
    I just hope it doesn't end up being MS and Sony partnering up to screw gamers.
  • Interesting news. Lets hope this turns into something positive for gamers on all platforms.
  • They know that the next video games wars is not betweem them, not between consoles, the next wars are going to be against apple, google, Amazon and other cloud providers.
  • Google pressuring two opponents to join forces. I'm generally a proponent of competition and more-than-two-horse-races, but Google has a REALLY bad track record, so I'm not surprised Sony and MS are teaming up...!
  • Knowing Google they’ll probably discontinue it after a year or two.
  • And Microsoft can kill theirs because they don't advertise it publicly or promote it in the systems, then no one uses it.
  • Then again Google is ages behind MS and Amazon in cloud deployment.... Which is especially important in gaming... I'm not worried by Google and MS shouldn't either yet... And Amazon doesn't seem really interested in making a move in core gaming just yet with their cloud solution... Plus Sony needs partners to be able to stay afloat it's not like they have stellar Financials
  • The ball is in Nintendo's court now. I believe their current leading hinted to the possibility of dropping out of console war. Might be interesting to see who the jump towards. (If Nintendo sides with Microsoft/Sony and not google the world would be a better place.) Damn you google if you buy out Nintendo. I will hate you forever and ever.
  • Isn't competition good?
  • I think google forced them to cooperate, google repeats “the future of gaming is not a box”