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Xbox Game Studios Reveals New Publishing Banner For Cloud-native Titles

Posted on May 5, 2022 by Nick Moreno

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During the infancy of Project xCloud at the time, Microsoft was specifically clear on the advancements of the service to not branch too far from the Xbox ecosystem. Mainly creating exclusive games that won’t be available on the other platforms. “We remain committed to an approach with game streaming that is complementary to console and have no plans for cloud-exclusive content at this time,” one Microsoft spokesperson said then.

However, that appeared to have shifted when Microsoft later revealed when speaking to Polygon that it established a new xCloud division to create unique projects for the game-steaming peripheral. More exciting is the addition of Kim Swift: a former Valve developer responsible for her work on Portal & Left 4 Dead more than a decade ago. 

In a previous presentation from Microsoft Game Dev, Swift reveals that Microsoft formed a new publishing division solely for xCloud projects which further fuels its ambition to drive more users for the service. You can watch the presentation in the video below:

The new Xbox Cloud Gaming organization is told to “partner with world-class game development teams to develop cloud-native games to bring unprecedented experiences to players that can only be achieved with cloud technology.” Swift elaborates that these games will be running on remote servers, but will perform like native titles you find on console.

Howbeit, there are some advantages to cloud-native titles. Such as Crackdown 3: its unique Wrecking Zone mode offers destruction rendered from cloud blades which delivers dynamic physics which does not restrain the hardware running the game. But, Swift does acknowledge that cloud gaming is still you expressing it to “still [be] in its infancy.” She added this program is the same Netflix faced when first founded.

“At the time when Netflix was formed, internet speeds were not what they needed in order to send packets fast enough to support streaming, so instead they sent physical packets in the mail in the form of DVDs, and they had to wait for technology to catch up with their vision. But they were ready for it.”

Additionally, Swift injected the benefits of cloud gaming with unique AI that could improve development for game studios as well. Namely allowing teams to “advance what developers can do by using technology like machine learning, natural language processing and reinforcement learning.”

I really think this is what people think of when they hear cloud gaming. At one point I was working on a cloud title and was asked the question, “how do we build massive, concurrent scale for players and make that more engaging? How can we have more players in a space than we’ve ever seen before?” And these are areas that definitely require longer term investment, but we’re excited to start looking forward and driving what that possibility space could be.

Kim Swift, Xbox Cloud Gaming Director

Regarding what is on the table for xCloud currently, speculation still lingers on the involvement of Kojima Productions. Last year, it was reported that the Death Stranding head Hideo Kojima was in discussion on the matter for an Xbox exclusive title. Later it was claimed Kojima signed a latter of intent for the project and was learned the unnamed title would be for xCloud.

According to a later story from Siliconera, it was revealed that Kojima is interested in returning to the Bokai IP: a series he worked on for the Game Boy when still at Konami. Him interested in revisiting a handheld series this recent does raise hopes he’s entertaining the idea of potentially working on a cloud title, no? You can read the full report by heading here.

What are you excited to see come from the new Xbox Game Studios cloud publishing?

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