Microsoft is apparently looking to the future — future rivalries, that is. It seems like the company might be trying to extricate itself from the traditional Nintendo/PlayStation/Xbox console cycle, and instead decided to focus its attention on two other threats: Amazon and Google.
Xbox head Phil Spencer said this in an interview with Protocol:
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. 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. 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 7 billion people around the world. Ultimately, that’s the goal.
Is it me, or are the console manufacturers acting like a couple that just had a breakup? They have this weird detente going on. Sony wants to know on the sly what price Microsoft is putting on its new console. Microsoft is insisting it’s over Sony and all about its new rivalry with the cool kids.
Regardless, Spencer’s not wrong, but I don’t think he needed to throw shade at Sony or Nintendo to make his point. It’s true that Microsoft’s had to vary its strategy with regards to the future console market, if only because its hardware sales aren’t doing so well compared with the other console makers. It’s also true that cloud gaming is going to be a big part of gaming’s future, if only because so many big tech companies seem ready to brute-force that future. Microsoft has a leg up there, with regards to its cloud infrastructure.
I don’t think Microsoft should count them out just yet, though. Cloud gaming is still a ways off from becoming the norm — and so far Amazon and Google aren’t the big names in gaming that Sony and Nintendo are. You can make plans for the tech all the live-long day, but if gamers don’t go for it… then gamers don’t go for it. Amazon and Google have some stumbles to make before they become the tour de forces in gaming I’m sure they aspire to be, and that’s okay. They can certainly afford it. And Sony and Nintendo have time to work out how they’ll enter the cloud space, if they do at all.
Xbox, Nintendo, and PlayStation aren’t going anywhere — but their relationship with each other might change. Personally, I want a gaming future where there’s space for everyone and a market that has enough options to fulfill the needs of all gamers. Hopefully that’s what we get.