With the new generation of consoles slated for release at the end of this year, head of Xbox Phil Spencer has admitted that Microsoft’s console brand considers Google and Amazon its main competitors for their next-gen machine, the Xbox Series X. And perhaps more surprisingly, Spencer also stated that the company is willing to work with its key console rivals, Sony and Nintendo, for the purposes of broader crossplay.
So why Google and Amazon? Last time we checked, Google’s Stadia wasn’t lighting up the gaming market and you don’t automatically associate Amazon with gaming. But both of these companies have a solid cloud infrastructure and a wide global reach which could rival Microsoft’s own cloud technology, the Azure platform.
Neither Sony or Nintendo currently have the same level of cloud technology to pose much of a threat to the future plans of Microsoft. This is presumably why Xbox is happy to cooperate with its console rivals. “I don’t want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys, while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to seven billion people around the world,” Spencer told Protocol. “Ultimately, that’s the goal.”
“When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward,” said Spencer in the same conversation. “That’s not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but we’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years.”
Phil Harrison, a Google vice president and longtime game executive, also spoke to Protocol about its own stance on the future of gaming:
“For many years the game industry was somewhat overshadowed by music and movies and was always trying to justify itself as a form of mainstream media and entertainment,” said Harrison. “Now, games are far and away the largest entertainment medium on the planet from a digital perspective, so that global scale and size is attractive to the large technology companies as a way of bringing their products and services to more people.”
We still don’t have all the details on the next-gen consoles. PlayStation revealed a few new features that we can expect from the new controller and Xbox is making sure everyone knows about its backwards compatibility. The bad news is that we still don’t have a price tag for either yet – both are seemly waiting for the other to make the first move before locking in a price. But still, with Amazon and Google looking to move more heavily into the gaming sphere, we may have even more options soon enough.