Microsoft and Sony to collaborate on cloud gaming, hardware, and AI

In shock news, Sony is to use Microsoft data centres and streaming tech, as the two also plan to collaborate over semiconductor research.

In the most unexpected video game team-up since Mario and Sonic, Microsoft and Sony are to work together on new streaming and artificial intelligence technology.

The surprise annoucement was made via Microsoft’s website and reveals that the two companies are to partner, ‘on new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions’.

The press release is filled with a lot of that sort of vague business speak, but the short story seems to be that Sony has agreed to use Microsoft’s Azure cloud technology.

Since Sony doesn’t have worldwide data centres of the same calibre it certainly makes sense that they would want to use someone else’s tech for streaming, with the only real surprise being that they went with Microsoft rather than the other obvious contenders of Amazon and Google.

Exactly why is open to speculation, but rather than being afraid of Google Stadia (and Amazon’s rumoured video game plans) it’s likely to be simply a practical decision based on Microsoft’s existing expertise with video games.

Microsoft and Sony have signed a ‘memorandum of understanding’ that will allow the two companies to ‘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’.

That leaves some wriggle room for either company to back out of the deal if they get cold feet but they’re also collaborating on new semiconductor tech as well, so their plans run deep in terms of both company’s video games businesses.

Microsoft has made it clear for years now that they want to expand the Xbox brand beyond just being a console and turn it into a service that can be enjoyed on any digital device. Rumours suggest they may have convinced Nintendo to allow Xbox Game Pass on the Switch, but the partnership with Sony comes out of the blue.

More will likely be revealed at E3 next month, with the strange possibility that even though Sony aren’t present they might end up putting in a cameo at Microsoft’s pre-show media briefing.

Xbox and PlayStation will continue as separate brands, with separate games and consoles, but this level of co-operation is unprecedented, so it’s impossible to guess where it will end up eventually.

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