business news Xbox Everywhere: Up to 3 Billion Players for Microsoft?
On May 5, 2022, Microsoft officially launched Fortnite on xCloud in collaboration with Epic Games. The Redmond company took advantage of this surprising announcement to release a press release highlighting “Xbox Everywhere”, a strategy aimed at letting players have fun with the titles they want, with whom they want, on the devices they want. This is not the first time the software juggernaut has repeated this mantra, but a month from the Xbox & Bethesda Showcase 2022, Phil Spencer and his team are preparing to step up the gear. The goal? You just have to reach 3 billion players.
A stationary hardware, a cloud in the air
Moreover, Microsoft’s desire is not new. This need to no longer be loaded with hardware to run an Xbox game definitely goes back to 2013 where experiments were performed on Halo 4 with the goal of making it playable on smartphones thanks to “the power of the cloudIn 2018, Phil Spencer, Vice President of Xbox Games, revealed during E3 that a streaming game service was on its way and that it would provide access “for console quality titles on any device”. A teaser that went unnoticed due to the announcement of the purchase of Ninja Theory, which took place a few minutes earlier. Two years later, he specified that his competitors were no longer Sony or Nintendo, but Google and Amazon, cloud specialists. Remarks that had obviously sparked a controversy, but which nevertheless showed Microsoft’s new policy with the Xbox: to rely on the most promising segments of the group to win the lucrative war of services.. At Microsoft, that meant investing in Azure, the cloud platform that boasts of being the engine of the company’s annual results.
“There are only 200 or 250 million households in the world that are interested in video games on consoles. This is still less than 10% of the three billion players. We need to search for users where they are, that is, on the mobile and on other screens or devicesSaid Phil Spencer last year ahead of the 2021 Showcase. Tim Stuart, the brand’s CFO, explained that the effort would be made on the PC and on the mobile. He specified that financially, “the growing importance of income (…) from services“made game”less dependent (…) on consoles”. For decades, we have measured a manufacturer’s success on a single target, namely console sales in stores worldwide. This should no longer be a sufficient indicator for the next few years.. In addition, Flight Simulator is the perfect example of what provides a successful partnership between the various divisions of Microsoft, in this case Azure and Bing. Asobo’s creation also became the most played work in the cloud on mobile devices, PCs and consoles in March 2022.
Xbox everywhere, competition nowhere?
By hitting hard and fast, first with Game Pass, then with xCloud (longest reserved for Ultimate customers), Microsoft now has 25 million subscribers (+ 39% in one year). Among them, more than 10 million users have tried game streaming through Game Pass Ultimate. This number, Microsoft wants to see it climb fast to leave as little chance as possible to competitors. That’s why the group led by Satya Nadella completed the acquisition of Bethesda last year and plans to acquire Activision Blizzard. The software specialist wants to deliver to Game Pass as regularly as possible titles expected of players. With a view to expanding the influence of its services. As a reminder, the best-selling game on PlayStation in 2021 is none other than Call of Duty: Vanguard. Although Sony is updating its PlayStation Plus offer, no industrial giant today offers a “video games netflixBetter built than Microsoft. According to Ampere Analysis, Game Pass will have a 60% market share of video game subscription services in Europe and North America, compared to 7% for PlayStation Now.
Xbox wants to grow rapidly in a sector where the brand has all the cards in hand thanks to the parent company’s cloud expertise. The strengths to maximize growth are, of course, the content, but also the number of territories that provide access to services.. March 29, 2022, The Redmond Company threw Game Pass PC (in preview) in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam. Recently, Phil Spencer’s team opened cloud games for Mexican, Japanese and Brazilian players, increasing the number of territories connected to xCloud to 26. Sony, for its part, has announced that around 30 countries will soon have access to cloud streaming via the addition of Bulgaria, Croatia, Greece, Hungary, Malta, Poland, the Republic of Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia. . As a reminder, the Japanese manufacturer only offers the game in streaming on consoles (PS4, PS5) and PC. However, PS5 games cannot be played in the cloud, unlike Xbox Series X | S apps with Microsoft offerings.
Think out of the (X) box
Until now, game streaming within the Xbox ecosystem was only offered to Game Pass Ultimate subscribers on a selection of games that are part of the catalog. On May 5, 2022, for the very first time, Microsoft made a title without service that could be played with Fortnite. This means that anyone with an iOS device, Android mobile device or Windows PC, without an Xbox Live Gold subscription or Game Pass, can play Fortnite through the cloud. Additionally, this process allows Apple device owners to have fun with Epic Games software. Saves 30% off “the apple tax”Is passed on to users via a price reduction that applies to all purchases made on xCloud, regardless of which platform has been used to access it. After showing us that it was possible to have fun with Xbox games on machines / devices other than Xbox consoles, the Redmond company proves to us that a Game Pass subscription is no longer mandatory to take advantage of the cloud.. It would not be surprising to see other free-to-play take advantage of this skyboost with Rocket League, Call of Duty: Warzone, Phantasy Star Online: New Genesis and, logically, Halo Infinite.
In its official press release, Microsoft recalls that in less than two years, more than 125 developers have been working to make more than 350 Xbox Game Pass games compatible in the cloud. These versions designed to be played on mobile devices often have touch buttons. The US giant recognizes that 20% of xCloud users do not use any particular accessory to play, and that it is therefore important to democratize the touch interface. Since September 2021, when xCloud made its beta debut, the Redmond company has undoubtedly gained experience. Little by little, the Xbox brand moved elsewhere than in living rooms. It comes to offices with PCs, in pockets with iOS or Android devices, in backpacks with Steam Deck … and soon in connected televisions. Sounds from the hallway even evoke the arrival of an HDMI key that you can connect to your TV to enjoy Xbox cloud games without a real Xbox connected to the screen.
After Xbox Play Anywhere, the time for Xbox Everywhere is now. Named the best publisher of the year 2021 by Metacritic, the American giant knows that it has an army of studios that are capable of publishing games in different genres, capable of entertaining players with different profiles. If Microsoft succeeds in completing the acquisition of Activision Blizzar, the number of Game Pass subscribers could experience significant growth. Of course, this bright future, which is announced for Phil Spencer’s team, will only intervene if the technology and content keep up. Once an Xbox Live outage has made the cloud inaccessible to millions of subscribers, it’s best to keep a cool head.
By CarnbeeJournalist jeuxvideo.com