Sony and Microsoft have been games industry competitors ever since Xbox went up against the PS2, but the two companies have just announced some cloud-centric collaboration in their future. A joint press release says that they will "explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services". In simpler terms, Sony will soon use Microsoft's mastery of the cloud to make its games and entertainment streaming (like PlayStation Now and PlayStation Vue, presumably) work better.
This isn't a merger, and this isn't Microsoft and Sony setting aside their competition in gaming. But it is a new collaboration between the two gaming giants, coming just a few months after Google announced it would enter the cloud gaming space with Google Stadia (opens in new tab). That may be an unrelated development, of course, and business arrangements like these can be the result of years of discussion - but I wouldn't be surprised if Stadia moved up a few timetables.
"Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in the press release. "Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers."
Though the release never mentions Xbox by name, Xbox boss Phil Spencer voiced his support for the partnership via Twitter.
Excited about the opportunities ahead with @Sony for us to pursue our mutual gaming ambitions and delight players around the world. https://t.co/3vBuQiruiRMay 16, 2019
The deal also extends to some areas of hardware development, including Sony-made sensors and semiconductors being put to use for Microsoft's cloud AI developments. That's a mouthful even after I summarized it from the full release, so I'm not surprised they led with the gaming bit.
"For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas," Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said. "I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content. Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society."
They may not create new value for society, but you can still look forward to the next contenders on our list of new games 2019 (opens in new tab). And you can see what's going on in games and entertainment right now with our latest release radar video.