TOKYO – Microsoft accelerates push into cloud-based gaming with plans to bring next-gen games to Japan later this year, a sign that competition is intensifying between game makers and established tech giants for a long time.
The American company announced Thursday that it will deploy cloud gaming in four countries, including Japan and Australia, through its Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, a subscription service that allows players to download more than 100 games to their Xbox. or their PC, or play in the cloud. based games.
The service has been available in the United States and Europe since last year, and some testing has taken place in Japan. Microsoft plans to work on data center development in Japan as it prepares to launch the service on a large scale by the end of 2021.
Cloud gaming enables instant play. It is believed that the deployment of super-fast 5G wireless communications will facilitate the rise of cloud gaming, as the technology also offers reduced signal delay.
Tech giants like Amazon and Google have launched similar cloud gaming services.
In Japan, the Sony Group helped launch the industry by introducing a cloud gaming service in 2014. The entertainment conglomerate, which has partnered with Microsoft in the cloud gaming market, offers a subscription service called PlayStation Now from which users can stream games to their consoles. or PC. The service now has 3.2 million subscribers, up 78% from the previous year.
In a March report, Newzoo said it expects the global cloud gaming market to reach nearly $ 1.5 billion this year, more than double its size in 2020. By now 2023, the Dutch research company estimates that the market will reach $ 5.1 billion.
Microsoft and Sony launched their latest game consoles in November. Microsoft has said it aims to add cloud gaming to its new Xbox Series X hardware, while Sony has in the past strived to gain more users by lowering subscription fees.
The gaming industry has benefited from pandemic-induced demand since last year, when many consumers were stuck in their homes. The lockdowns and other restrictions have given game companies an unprecedented opportunity to attract non-gamers and turn them into loyal buyers of game hardware and titles.
In another move towards creating a “Netflix for gaming business,” Microsoft has revealed that it is developing a dedicated cloud-based gaming device that can be connected to a TV or screen, as it offers to “reach gamers on any TV or monitor without the need for a console at all.”
While Microsoft has said it has no plans to abandon its console business, the company has made efforts to expand its Netflix-style subscription service so that it can be available to PC and mobile users. smartphones, avoiding the need for expensive consoles.
On the other hand, Japanese gaming giant Nintendo has illustrated that casual gamers are willing to pay a certain amount of money for a console if there are attractive and interesting games available. The company’s resounding success “Animal Crossing: New Horizons” has sold over 32 million copies since its release in March 2020, increasing sales of its Switch console.