Sony and Microsoft recently announced a partnership to collaborate on cloud-based solutions for AI and gaming experiences. The following Microsoft new article explains it as “integrating Sony’s cutting-edge image sensors with Microsoft’s Azure AI technology in a hybrid manner across cloud and edge”. So what does this mean for both sides going forward? If you read the article, it is filled with vague corporate speak. What could this partnership bring about for us gamers? Here are a few possible outcomes.
Nothing of Note
I mean, this is obviously the least likely scenario, but there will always be people who fail to recognize any kind of collaboration between Sony and Microsoft. How many people are aware that Microsoft uses Sony‘s Blu-ray drive in the Xbox One? A lot of gamers have it in their mind that these two companies hate each other and they will never acknowledge the good things either side brings to the other in order to keep the “console wars” going.
A More Reliable PS5 Cloud System
One of the areas Microsoft has excelled in is its implementation of cloud services. Every game you play has its data automatically stored in the cloud, so you never have to worry about manually setting it up. I also think that we’ll see games make better use of the cloud, like reducing loading times and dealing with other issues. However, I am not tech savvy enough to know how reliable that will be. The main thing here is that Sony does not currently have the infrastructure to use the cloud the way Microsoft and Google do, so this collaboration will help them in this area.
Better PlayStation Now
Sony does not have a reliable infrastructure to run services like PlayStation Now and they know it. In a recent Bloomberg article, Yuji Nakamura and Dina Bass say, “Faster internet speeds are starting to allow games to be played remotely without the need for a local machine. That’s a threat to PlayStation, which generates a third of Sony’s profits.” They go on to say, “Realizing that his home-grown cloud service isn’t going to cut it, Sony Chief Executive Officer Kenichiro Yoshida is being forced to collaborate, rather than confront his old gaming nemesis.”
Azure would give Sony a better foundation to run their streaming services like PlayStation Now, which will be vitally important if a streaming market takes off in the near future.
An Streaming-Only PS5 Mode
Maybe not as much of a given with PlayStation Now’s current state, but this still potentially could happen. Microsoft has experimented with a digital-only version of the Xbox One S and there are rumors that the Xbox “Scarlet” model won’t have a disc drive. The Sony-Microsoft partnership could lead to Sony exploring more digital- and streaming-only devices in the future.
VR Technologies for Xbox, AR Technologies for PlayStation
I think that the virtual and augmented reality technologies these two mammoth companies could trade with each other would help both immensely. Say what you want about virtual reality as a gaming experience, Sony has proven they plan to support PSVR for the foreseeable future. Microsoft on the other hand, has been less willing to dip their toes into the VR race and instead have focused on AR experiences, with Minecraft Earth coming to phones and Hololens soon.
Microsoft will gain access to Sony’s image sensors in this collaboration. While some of this utilization could be put towards Hololens, it’s not impossible for it to go towards a Windows/Xbox VR. Sony‘s new tech could encourage Microsoft to give VR another look. That, or like I said all of that technology could be directed towards Hololens, which is fine too, but we haven’t had a public demonstration of the device in years.
Sony could start pursuing mobile AR games like Minecraft Earth and Pokémon Go. Maybe a clicker-style zombie game like The Walking Dead: Our World? Maybe a treasure hunting AR game fashioned after Uncharted? I am not a game designer, but there is potential there.
Augmented reality is an area Sony has not explored, at least not without public knoweldge. Likewise with Microsoft and virtual reality. The Sony-Microsoft partnership could see both sides change that.
PS Exclusive Games on PC
I am not suggesting PlayStation exclusives will ever be on the Windows Store. Instead, I could see a future where Sony sets up their own PC store equivalent, like EA’s Origin and the Bethesda Store. A dedicated Sony store for PC players to get their The Last of Us and Horizon: Zero Dawn fix. With Microsoft helping them use Azure, they could make a store that connects console with PC. This could lead to a future where you could play Sony games on PC and PS5 without having to purchase games twice. Not likely, but one can still hope.
Easier Cross Progression/Cross Play
I am not a tech guru by any means so I do not know how much this partnership impacts crossplay. Plenty of companies seem to be able to support crossplay on their own servers. Fortnite has accidentally enabled crossplay in the past, and Rocket League always said all they had to do was flip a switch. I do not necessarily think the Sony-Microsoft partnership affects this much.
On the other hand, I think cross progression would be one of the biggest practical benefits for gamers from this deal. If Sony and Microsoft are both running their games through Azure, we may finally see a time where you can play a third party game on your Xbox, then go to your PlayStation and your progress carries over. No more having to level two accounts at the same time in Destiny. Have friends playing Division 2 on both platforms? You no longer would have to choose what side to play on. Your one account knows your level and gear score. Maybe that is a little too optimistic, but I can dream, right?
Shortly after I heard about the Sony-Microsoft partnership I got excited. Two gaming giants in the industry working together could mean big changes that benefit gamers. Regardless of which company benefits more from this, this is a win for gamers. This collaboration should definitely bring some interesting, exciting developments in the years to come.
Those are my thoughts though. If you have different opinions, let us know in the comments, or tweet me @REVXSHADOWS.