Microsoft is a cloud-first company, so it should come as no surprise that the Redmond giant would be exploring cloud-first games. A while back I shared on my Xbox Two Podcast with noted Xbox Insider Rand_Al_Thor_19 that I'd heard Microsoft may be working with Finnish developer Mainframe Industries on some sort of cloud-based MMO, although I didn't have any other details beyond that.
Today, the majestically-maned Jeff Grubb of VentureBeat added a heap of details, adding fuel to the possibility that we may have uncovered yet another game to add to the growing list of upcoming Xbox exclusives.
Reportedly named PaxDei, this MMO will scale in complexity based on how you're accessing the game. PaxDei is, indeed, registered as a computer game trademark on the EU IPO website, attached to Mainframe Industries. The trademark was filed in June, but was granted through to 2031 starting this October.
Microsoft and Mainframe hope to establish a "best practices" framework for device-agnostic gaming using Pax Dei, which will adapt its user experience to cater to the device being used to access the game. Grubb offers examples in his piece, noting that players on a phone may want to do more simplistic tasks like resource gathering or crafting management, while players on a console or PC can access the more complex gameplay elements, such as combat and raiding.
World of Warcraft already has some systems like this, although they are quite "soft" in their implementation. Players can send NPC soldiers on missions using the WoW phone app, for example, and access things like guild text chat. There have been rumors for years that Blizzard was exploring a Pokemon Go-like World of Warcraft mobile game, which may or may not tie into the MMO itself, given that you can collect and battle pets in the base game. World of Warcraft was very much not designed with this in mind from the outset, though, which is probably why its device-agnostic systems are very limited.
Pax Dei would be among the first MMOs designed from day 1 to take advantage of a device-first gaming future, where games and services target players where they are. Xbox Game Pass and its cloud gaming platform are fundamentally an extension of this vision too, with device-aware APIs that detect whether a touch screen is present to surface touch controls, or whether a gamepad is present, and so on. Grubb reports that Microsoft's negotiations with Hideo Kojima of Death Stranding and Metal Gear Solid fame revolves around a cloud-first game too, and hopes that practices established with Mainframe Industries can also inform and aid the development of that game too, should a deal be finalized.
One thing is for sure: Xbox fans are going to be awash with exclusive titles in the coming years. From projects we know about like Hellblade II, Redfall, and Starfield, to mysterious unknowns, like Compulsion's game, and various Xbox Global Publishing partnerships — all on Xbox Game Pass. It's a recipe for success and represents a level of investment Xbox has never previously enjoyed.
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