During Tuesday's episode of Inside Xbox, Microsoft showed off a live demo of its Project xCloud streaming tech, which makes it possible to play an Xbox One game like Forza Horizon 4 on your phone via the power of the cloud. Microsoft has now confirmed another big Xbox get for mobile: Xbox Live functionality coming to iOS and Android. But despite previous leaks pointing at the Switch being another eligible platform, nothing's been confirmed yet for Nintendo's console.
Kareem Choudhry, corporate vice president for Gaming Cloud (who appeared on the Inside Xbox show), and Julia White, corporate vice president for Azure, made the announcement during a pre-GDC presser. A new mobile SDK (software development kit) for iOS and Android will sync up Xbox Live capabilities to your phone, with developers having the freedom to pick and choose which features they want to include.
"With one secure sign-in, iOS and Android games will get a consistent experience with fan-favorite Xbox Live features such as achievements, gamerscore, hero stats, friends lists, club memberships, and even some family settings, no matter what device people are playing on," said Choudhry. "We don't have any specific announcements as it relates to Switch today," he added.
To go along with this announcement, Choudhry and White also unveiled Microsoft Game Stack, which unites a huge list of developer-facing programs. "Game Stack brings together our game development platform, tools, and services, like DirectX and Visual Studio, our cloud gaming platform Azure, and PlayFab into a robust ecosystem that any game developer can use," said Choudhry.
You probably won't hear much about Microsoft Game Stack from a player perspective - though it does feature in some big-name games. For instance, multiplayer matchmaking in Ubisoft's Rainbow Six Siege is powered by the TrueSkill algorithm, which falls under the Microsoft Game Stack umbrella. "I play a lot of PlayFab games, but I actually don't know, as a consumer, that it's being powered by PlayFab or Azure on the backend. And we're actually just fine with that," said Choudhry. "Going back to our philosophy of empowering companies and organizations to achieve more, this is really all about empowering the game developers, so we really don't see PlayFab being a consumer-facing brand. It's really more about enabling the game development community."
The main takeaway here is that you'll soon be able to carry around your gamerscore and achievements list in your pocket, so you can prove how hardcore you are at a moment's notice. It's possible that plans to bring the SDK to Switch have been delayed or cancelled, so we'll just have to wait and see if Microsoft and Nintendo eventually team up to bring Xbox Live to a Nintendo console.
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