Sony and Microsoft dropped a bombshell announcement earlier today when the two video game giants revealed they had come to terms on collaborative partnership that will see both parties work on new cloud-based solutions for gaming experiences. The news comes under a month away from what is supposedly going to be a revelatory E3 2019 for Microsoft and the Xbox brand, with many speculating it could signal the company's departure from the console market as it begins to pursue partnerships and cloud-based streaming services instead.
It's not like Microsoft hasn't been aggressively pursuing partnerships this year already, either — the company already infamously has something in the works with Nintendo beyond just bringing the occasional Xbox exclusive title to the Switch, and Xbox boss Phil Spencer has loudly proclaimed over social media that he's willing to enter talks with just about anyone regarding the future of gaming and how the Xbox brand fits into it. While that was initially seen as a sign of weakness from a company that's current-gen console has been soundly thrashed by its competitors, it now appears to be a pivot that will see Xbox potentially redesign the way it approaches gaming.
The new partnership was announced earlier today via the Microsoft home page, suggesting that the Sony and Microsoft partnership would be an effort to pursue new innovations and enhance customer experiences in their entertainment platforms. The two companies are apparently both going to work in Microsoft Azure, and even more shockingly, Sony's game and content-streaming services will now be able to use Microsoft Azure as well. Here's part of the statement released by Microsoft earlier today:
"The two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony's game and content-streaming services. 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."
It's shocking to see both companies suddenly working together after years spent as fierce competitors, but it also makes sense. Google Stadia is a looming threat to the way we currently understand console gaming, and Microsoft's infrastructure plus Sony's current gaming standing make for a powerhouse combination. Whereas both companies individually might have been surpassed by competitors, a unified front could benefit the Sony and Microsoft partnership. What this means for PlayStation and Xbox, however, is anyone's guess — the rumors that Microsoft is departing the console game altogether seem to have greater weight now, whereas Sony has suddenly unlocked the kind of cloud-based infrastructure it could previously only dream of.
It's also key to note a small addition at the end of that massive, industry-shaking quote — both companies want to build better platforms for the content creator community. It could be part of both company's future plans to rely much more heavily on streaming for both marketing and additional content creation, and it will be interesting to see how the business models adapt in the wake of it. For now, though, the gaming landscape has dramatically shifted, and it's difficult to accurately predict where anyone is going to land when the shake-up ends. E3 2019 seems the most likely place to get some more answers, and there will be more eyes on the E3 2019 Xbox presentation now that the Sony and Microsoft partnership is public knowledge.