Microsoft launches ID@Azure program for developing games through the cloud

Azure Data Center
Azure Data Center (Image credit: Microsoft)

What you need to know

  • Microsoft launched its free ID@Azure program, which aims to help game developers use the cloud.
  • ID@Azure is a platform-agnostic tool that can be used to develop games for console, PC, mobile devices, and virtual reality.
  • Microsoft also announced the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, which provides a remote workstation for game development.

Playing games through the cloud is becoming more common these days, as is developing games through the cloud. Microsoft made several announcements (opens in new tab) today about tools that will help developers leverage the cloud, work remotely, and use cloud services to enhance gaming.

After a private testing period, Microsoft has made the ID@Azure program generally available. It's a platform-agnostic tool that lets developers create games for console, PC, mobile devices, and virtual reality. Being part of the program gets developers a free Azure PlayFab standard plan, which provides access to PlayFab Party services, Live Ops party services, and other tools.

Microsoft also announced the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine. It provides a pre-built Game Development Virtual Machine in Azure that has several development tools pre-installed. Using the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine should reduce some of the time and costs associated with setting up test systems for game development.

Launch of ID@Azure

Azure Games Microsoft

Source: Microsoft (Image credit: Source: Microsoft)

ID@Azure is a new program from Microsoft that aims to help game developers use the cloud. It comes with several resources and can be used to create games on a variety of platforms.

"The goal of ID@Azure is to empower independent developers," explained Nick Ferguson, the program director of ID@Azure. "We want you to take advantage of the same services and capabilities used by large teams building some of the most popular games today, many of which are powered by Azure to reach millions of players."

Doom Eternal, Minecraft, Halo Infinite, and many of the best Xbox games use Azure. Now, Microsoft wants smaller studios to use the cloud service as well.

Microsoft will provide ID@Azure program members up to $5,000 in Azure credits. All developers will be able to get $500 of credits, but that figure can go up as devs work with Microsoft on specific projects.

Microsoft will also give developers access to a PlayFab Standard Plan for up to two years, which normally costs $99 per month. That includes $400 of monthly meters over PlayFab's Free To Start pricing plan. ID@Azure members will also get access to PlayFab Party Networking, Party Voice & Chat, PlayFab Matchmaking, and PlayFab Lobby.

Microsoft expects PlayFab services to be free for 95% of multiplayer games and most ID@Azure members.

Azure Game Development Virtual Machine

Microsoft's Azure Game Development Virtual Machine is now in public preview. It should make it easier for game creators to jump into development. The tool provides a remote workstation that comes with many game development solutions pre-installed.

Because Unreal Engine, Blender, DirectX, and some of the most popular solutions are pre-installed in the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, game developers can have a server ready to go in minutes. With the solutions already available, studios don't need to have specialty hardware onsite or to use the same centralized server to collaborate.

Below are all of the solutions currently available through the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine:

  • Visual Studio Community Edition 2019
  • Unreal Engine
  • Quixel Bridge
  • Perforce's P4V Client
  • Parsec
  • Incredibuild
  • Blender
  • Teradici
  • DirectX/GDK/PlayFab SDKs and more

Azure Game Development Virtual Machine integrates with Azure PlayFab, allowing developers to use two of Microsoft's cloud-centric solutions together.

Sean Endicott
News Writer and apps editor

Sean Endicott brings nearly a decade of experience covering Microsoft and Windows news to Windows Central. He joined our team in 2017 as an app reviewer and now heads up our day-to-day news coverage. If you have a news tip or an app to review, hit him up at (opens in new tab).