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Sony and Microsoft, a strategic partnership for the cloud that opens up new horizons

Sony and Microsoft, a strategic partnership for the cloud that opens up new horizons

Some considerations on the agreement between Sony and Microsoft, a pact yet to be defined but with interesting prospects.

The agreement between Sony and Microsoftalthough still to be defined as pointed out by Sony Interactive CEO Jim Ryan, it is a historic event, a clear sign of the change in a sector destined to migrate to new shores on the wings of artificial intelligence and cloud gaming. The presentation of Google Stadia, the latest arrival but today herald of a new frontier that has seen Sony embark on an adventure before others, has made it clear, but poses significant problems, such as to require huge funds and technology in quantity. to be addressed. And here is where Sony’s limit lies, which instead of turning to third parties has decided, perhaps wisely, to remain in the field of gaming, or almost, relying on what from a direct opponent could become a precious ally against new giants determined to do the big voice.

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The agreement, if concluded, will bring benefits to both companies, making technologies related to image sensors available to Microsoft and guaranteeing Sony the possibility of integrating Microsoft skills, starting from artificial intelligence to get to tools for customers. enterprise, in its consumer products. And that’s not all. Among the statements we also find the mention of the four-handed development of new technologies, exploiting the strengths of both companies, and it is something that intrigues us a lot. But what most attracts our curiosity, as gamers, concerns the possible collaboration linked to the use of Microsoft Azure datacenter for PlayStation content. We have seen a lot of Sony titles that run on Windows, at least when it comes to multiplayer, and the arrival of PS Now on PC, together with weight exclusives also popped up on the Epic Store, had already left us suspecting some changes in sight. But in this case we are talking about a face-to-face agreement, a partnership that could make the Microsoft Azure servers available to Sony, guaranteeing the company a technological competitiveness in the field of cloud gaming that it could not have alone.

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The agreement, we repeat, is still a memorandum, a declaration of intent that anticipates a practically certain collaboration, but certainly does not represent a contract. The face, however, was also put there managing directors of the two companies, Kenichiro Yoshida for Sony and Satya Nadella for Microsoft, expressing public satisfaction for a functional handshake to guarantee support for content creators. And that means providing platforms to developers, bringing PlayStation Now to Microsoft servers, and arguably more support for PlayStation Now on PC. No merger then and probably nothing that shuffles the cards for now, since the PlayStation division has been left out of the discussion at the moment. But we are still talking about video games on Azure servers and this means that, as long as the agreement goes through, since Sony first contacted Amazon and only later decided to accept the conditions of Microsoft, the Sony exclusives, in one way or in the ‘other, they will have to do with Microsoft technologies. And from here very interesting scenarios open up.

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If from the point of view of technologies the two companies integrate quite well, starting with the use of AMD architectures for their respective consoles, from the point of view of video games the question is much more delicate. The success of PlayStation 4 on Xbox One is a matter of exclusive and of a precise identity that could lose strength as the boundaries between the two companies become thinner. But, as we have already said, the upcoming changes promise to crumble the boundaries between platforms, making the idea of ​​having a service like PlayStation Now on Xbox or the popular Xbox Game Pass on Xbox less absurd than it was a few months ago. PlayStation 4. We have already seen Nintendo and Microsoft talking, just to be clear, a sign that Phil Spencer’s work for the future of Xbox is much deeper than the already appreciated one we have seen in recent years. Of course, in this way Sony would lose its spearhead in the console war, but as anticipated it has already moved in this direction, at least on PC, and with the agreement with Microsoft it would gain a fundamental weapon in the face of the landing of giants such as Google in gaming.

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Let’s talk about services capable of change the video game, inside and out, reaching an immense audience, such as to make the entire pool of those who play on the latest generation consoles in the minority, thanks to clients capable of running on any hardware. Probably the proprietary interfaces, specific controllers and consoles, in different models of which some emptied of more expensive hardware, will survive, but we are talking about very different numbers, of an opening to tens of millions of new potential users who could buy a ‘PlayStation Now exclusive, if the service were available in a widespread way and similar to what Stadia promised, regardless of whether or not you have a Sony platform at home. And here we are therefore with the need for an infrastructure of a certain depth, capillary and capable of guaranteeing a certain quality and low latencies in a large part of the world. All without necessarily renouncing competition which would become a question of services, guaranteeing even more importance to exclusives. For this reason it does not seem so absurd to think of a solid partnership, an array that could even include Nintendo, in some form, creating a force made of content and technologies capable of creating more than a problem for competitors as powerful as Google and Amazon.