Xbox head Phil Spencer made some surprising comments recently. It seems that Xbox does not consider Sony or Nintendo as its competitors. That role, at least in Microsoft’s eyes, goes to Amazon and Google.
Clearly Microsoft is starting to see Xbox in a different light. Far from being a gaming brand, Xbox is rapidly speeding towards becoming a service provider.
It has been speculated for quite a while that consoles are dying out. As streaming technology and internet speeds improve, the need for dedicated hardware is becoming obsolete.
Microsoft clearly sees itself as the front-runner of this new era of gaming. While Google has tried to rush headlong into it with Stadia, it has stumbled on the first hurdle. Xbox is an established gaming brand, with enough first-party IPs to make a go of a cloud service like xCloud.
It’s already moving into diversified hardware. The Xbox Series X is as close to a PC that any games console has ever been. With xCloud expected for release in 2020, Microsoft is going after ‘service gaming’ full force.
There are probably always going to be people who want a gaming console. If Microsoft drops out of the race, Sony would potentially dominate the hardcore section of the market. With Nintendo doing their own thing, both companies could become very secure in their particular niches.
Then again, if cloud-based gaming becomes wildly popular then both Nintendo and Sony will have to switch tacts quickly to stay profitable. In the case of Sony, that may not be too hard thanks to PSNow. Nintendo would have an uphill struggle considering how far behind it is in gaming services.
As of right now, we have no idea how quickly Microsoft will be making the switch to cloud-based gaming. If Spencer’s comments are anything to go by then it has already started to happen.