For more than a decade, when you think about Xbox Live, you are likely thinking of a black box that sits in your living room that connects to an online service.
Today, Microsoft unveiled a suite of new tools for game developers under a new Azure product called GameStack, bringing together live ops systems for service-type games such as PlayFab, middleware engines like Simplygon and Havok, as well as new features like PlayFab UGC, which allows developers to set up user-generated content storefronts similar to that seen in Minecraft.
Developers will not be forced to integrate every single aspect of Xbox Live in their games.
The new Microsoft Game Stack unites services such as Xbox Live, Azure, Visual Studio and PlayFab, the Seattle startup Microsoft acquired a year ago. Game Stack is a significant move in itself, and it has big implications for Xbox Live in particular, which is heading to iOS and Android as part of this initiative. It also means developers can add Xbox Live Achievements to their games, giving gamers another incentive to pick them up and to keep playing them.
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Meanwhile, Javier Olivan will lead the effort to better integrate the Facebook apps. Cox and Daniels are among a string of executives who've left Facebook since 2017.
"We believe so strongly in community, and Xbox Live really being at the heart of our gaming community", explains Kareem Choudhry, Microsoft's gaming cloud chief in a media briefing this week. While this is definitely true, it remains to be seen if mobile developers will prefer Microsoft's tools over others those already provided by Facebook or Google.
Microsoft is making a huge bet on its cloud gaming capabilities, led by its Project xCloud service, which has the potential to usher in a new era of gaming by bringing high-powered Xbox games to smartphones.
"Our company has a long legacy in games - and in building developer-focused platforms", said Choudry. It seems unlikely that will ever happen, but never say never.
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