Sony and Microsoft partner to explore cloud gaming and more

Sony and Microsoft are to collaborate to develop their respective cloud platforms, covering gaming and other entertainment forms.

The pair will also partner to pursue innovations in artificial intelligence and semiconductors. While the two tech giants are looking at the potential of pairing Sony’ semiconductors with Microsoft’s existing cloud offering, their announcement does not suggest that they are developing a single platform or device that they will release together. This collaboration, it appears, is about the two collaborating to bolster their respective, distinct gaming and entertainment platforms.

The partnership will focus significantly on employing Microsoft’s well-established Azure cloud back-end. Azure as it currently exists will be explored as a tool to deliver Sony’s evolving cloud gaming offering. As such, we could potentially see a Sony cloud gaming platform powered by the Microsoft back-end.

Meanwhile, the two companies will investigate innovating the future make-up of Azure as a means to support their individual endeavours in game and entertainment streaming. Azure essentially offers a suite of tools for the development, deployment, maintenance, testing and support of online applications and services, including games.

A statement to the press reads: “By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers. These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.”

The news is particularly striking because Sony and Microsoft – or at least their gaming divisions – have historically been pitched as great rivals since the dawn of the PlayStation and Xbox era. The notion of ‘console wars’ has existed since long before Sony and Microsoft moved on games, of course, and was used as a marketing device through the era of Nintendo and Sega’s console rivalry. Consumers have often been happy to subscribe to the notion of a console war, proudly staking a flag in their preferred console platform while vocally dismissing its rival. Encouraging brand loyalty, of course, helps sales. As such, when PlayStation and Xbox took over as the dominant gaming consoles, they were inevitable positioned as great rivals.

Sony President and CEO Kenichiro Yoshida, (L) and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella (R).

So what has brought these unlikely partnered together? For one, while you’re unlikely to find much public talk of collaboration around PlayStation and Xbox, the wider companies have long been business partners in areas where they are not as intensely competitive. Secondly, there is the matter of Google’s coming cloud gaming platform Stadia. When a player as sizeable as Google steps into the market with a gaming platform, even the existing leaders of the space may not feel big enough to face off the competition. That may be a motivating factor for a partnership that – on the surface, at least – is rather unlikely.

“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony. “PlayStation itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology. Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere,”

“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” added Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”

The companies have promised to reveal more information in due course, but for now we’ll have to rely on industry speculation; something you can expect a great deal more of going forward.