Is Microsoft building the “Netflix of Gaming?”

Kareem Anderson

Microsoft’s announcements at E3 2018 regarding the end of traditional console gaming continue to reverberate in an industry steeped heavily in the investment of physical hardware.

Microsoft’s new play has prompted several think pieces from industry analysis and particularly interesting one comes from Fast Company author Jared Newman, who optimistically pens the piece, “Microsoft is the right company to build the Netflix of gaming.”

While the headline is definitely attention grabbing, in a private Teams conversation our own Laurent Giret was quick to point out Sony’s rather substantial presence in cloud based subscription gaming which effectively sits Microsoft in the driver’s seat, rather than behind the innovation wheel.

However, Newman’s piece is less about Microsoft being the innovator in the field but more about the company having the cloud computing chops to provide a broader streaming experience.

Perhaps, due in part to some mentoring by Netflix’s CEO Reed Hastings, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has the entire company’s (including the Xbox division) eyesight aligned more broadly on the ubiquitous nature of cloud services and expanding online platforms, than some of its competitors.

On the technology side, the company operates data centers around the world for its Azure cloud computing service, and the company has some experience with streaming: Today, Xbox One owners can stream games to any Windows 10 PC over a local network connection.

Newman points to several other examples as to why the company could outshine its competitors in the cloud gaming business such as Xbox Game Pass, Xbox All Access, efforts in creating a cloud-based gaming console and the recent work the company has done in pitching gaming studios on the idea of altering their code and optimizing their games to run on Microsoft’s growing Azure platform.

When all is said and done, Nvidia, Sony, or even Apple can come up with just the right marketing to shine as the Netflix of gaming, but as it stands now, “no other company has the same platform control, hit franchises, development resources, and cloud-centric business agenda to make it work.”