Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Microsoft's cloud gaming effort suggests a Vita-ish future

Hmm, this is twice I've written about Microsoft recently. First for their icky concepts for smartphone controllers. Now, over the weekend, the company held a big show that was mostly about Game Pass, its cloud streaming game service that's pretty-much device agnostic. As if MS is fast moving away from the "Most Powerful Console in the World" as those endless adverts insist.

Update: Kotaku seems to be agreeing with me!


Like many other powerful things, X1 sales aren't amazing. Will there be an Xbox Two? Of course, it won't go the way of selling Windows upgrades, Nokia phones, Windows Mobile, Zune music players etc. But it might not be the expensive hyper-box fans would hope for. Will there be AAA console-exclusives? yes, but the time and cost of these projects is unsustainable expect for a few keystone projects.

Instead, Game Pass is now globally available on iOS and Android, with more devices to come. But, console games, on a phone? Even with a crappy controller bolted on to it? You can see where this is going, right? More games on Game Pass and PS Now, more platforms? All you need is a good device to play them on. So why not an Xbox-branded game device that does the job perfectly?

The Cloud is Where its At

Where MS has found success in recent years to take up the slack from all the failed hardware is in cloud and services. That's where its gaming future seems to lie. Game Pass at $10 a month for a bunch of games you can play on any device sounds pretty cool, like PlayStation Now, but with a wider spread. And with so many services, why not one box that plays them all?

Gamesindustry.biz even suggests that the service could arrive on Switch or PS5, which would earn major subscription bucks and put a host of games on new platforms. That's assuming the platform holders agree, and Sony rarely plays nicely with others, until the fans pick up their pitchforks.

With PS Now worth just under $150 million a quarter, and many companies preferring to tout their service income rather than hardware sales (even Apple is going this way), your gaming future could be cast in this Netflix-like light. And services in isolation are bad, just ask Microsoft!

But most controller-based games need a few buttons and nothing has come close to the Vita. Sales of those mobile controllers are tiny. So, if all the big names in gaming want an anywhere, any-platform, any-service, gaming-device, surely a 5G Android Vita spiritual successor, would work best, casting to HD TVs and encouraging multiplayer.

Just a thought!

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