Microsoft is built on the belief of empowering people and
organizations to achieve more – it is the DNA of our company. Today we are announcing a
new initiative, Microsoft Game Stack, in which we commit to bringing together Microsoft
tools and services that will empower game developers like yourself, whether you’re an
indie developer just starting out or a AAA studio, to achieve more.
This is the start of a new journey, and today we are only taking
the first steps. We believe Microsoft is uniquely suited to deliver on that commitment.
Our company has a long legacy in games – and in building developer-focused platforms.
There are 2 billion gamers in the world today, playing a broad
range of games, on a broad range of devices. There is as much focus on video streaming,
watching, and sharing within a community as there is on playing or competing. As game
creators, you strive every day to continuously engage your players, to spark their
imaginations, and inspire them, regardless of where they are, or what device they’re
using. Today, we’re introducing Microsoft Game Stack, to help you do exactly that.
What Exactly is Microsoft Game Stack?
Game Stack brings together all of our game-development platforms,
tools, and services—such as Azure, PlayFab, DirectX, Visual Studio, Xbox Live, App
Center, and Havok—into a robust ecosystem that any game developer can use. The goal of
Game Stack is to help you easily discover the tools and services you need to create and
operate your game.
The cloud plays a critical role in Game Stack, and Azure fills
this vital need. Azure provides the building blocks like compute and storage, as well
as cloud-native services from machine learning and AI, to push notifications and mixed
reality spatial anchors. Azure is already available in 54 regions globally, including
China, and continues to invest in building highly secure and sustainable cloud
infrastructure and additional services for game developers. Azure’s global scale is
what will give Project xCloud streaming technology the scale to deliver a great gaming
experience for players worldwide, regardless of their device and location.
Already with Azure, companies like Rare, Ubisoft and Wizards of
the Coast are hosting multiplayer game servers, safely and securely storing player
data, analyzing game telemetry, protecting their games from DDOS attacks, and training
AI to create more immersive gameplay.
While Azure is part of Game Stack, it’s important to call out that
Game Stack is cloud, network, and device agnostic. And we’re not stopping here.
The next piece of Game Stack is PlayFab, a complete backend
service for building and operating live games. A year ago, we welcomed PlayFab into
Microsoft through an acquisition. Today we’re excited to announce we are bringing
PlayFab into the Azure family. Together, Azure and PlayFab are a powerful combination:
Azure brings reliability, global scale, and enterprise-level security; PlayFab provides
Game Stack with managed game-development services, real-time analytics, and LiveOps
capabilities. Last fall, we saw what these two platforms can do together with PlayFab Multiplayer Servers, which allows you to safely launch
and scale up multiplayer games by dynamically hosting your servers with Azure cloud
To quote PlayFab’s co-founder James Gwertzman, “Modern game
creators are less like movie directors, and more like cruise directors. Long-term
success requires engaging players in a continuous cycle of creation, experimentation,
and operation. It’s no longer possible to just ship your game and move on.” This is why
a year ago, we welcomed PlayFab into Microsoft through an acquisition. PlayFab supports
all major devices, from iOS and Android, to PC and Web, to Xbox, Sony PlayStation, and
Nintendo Switch; and all major game engines, including Unity and Unreal. PlayFab will
also continue to support all major clouds going forward.
Powerful matchmaking for multiplayer games, adapted from Xbox
Live matchmaking, but now available to all games and all devices.
In public preview today:
Voice and chat services, adapted from Xbox Party Chat, but now
available to all games and for all devices. Party leverages Azure Cognitive Services
for real-time translation and transcription to make games accessible to more players.
PlayFab Game Insights
Combines robust real-time game telemetry with game data from
multiple other sources to measure your game’s performance and create actionable
insights. Powered by Azure Data Explorer, Game Insights will offer connectors to
existing first- and third-party data sources including Xbox Live.
PlayFab Pub Sub
Subscribe your game client to messages pushed from PlayFab’s
servers via a persistent connection, powered by Azure SignalR. This enables scenarios
such as real-time content updates, matchmaking notifications, and simple multiplayer
PlayFab User Generated Content
Engage your community by allowing players to create and safely
share user generated content with other players. This technology was originally built
to support the Minecraft marketplace.
Growing the Xbox Live Community
Another major component of Game Stack is Xbox Live. Over the past
16 years, Xbox Live has become one of the most vibrant and engaged gaming communities
in the world. It is also a safe and inclusive network that has broken down boundaries
in how gamers connect across devices.
Today, we’re excited for Xbox Live to become part of Microsoft
Game Stack, providing identity and community services. Under Game Stack, Xbox Live will
expand its cross-platform capabilities, as we introduce a new SDK that brings this
community to iOS and Android devices.
Mobile developers will now be able to reach some of the most
highly engaged and passionate gamers on the planet with Xbox Live. These are just a few
of the benefits for mobile developers:
Trusted Game Identity
With the new Xbox Live SDK, developers can focus on creating great
games and leverage Microsoft‘s trusted identity network to support log-in, privacy,
online safety and child accounts.
New a la carte service offerings and no Xbox Live certification
pass give mobile developers flexibility in how they build and update their games.
Developers just use the services that best fit their needs.
Vibrant Gaming Community
Reach Xbox Live’s growing community and connect gamers across a
multitude of platforms. Find creative ways to enable achievements, Gamerscore, and
“hero” stats, which have their own out-of-game experience, to keep gamers engaged.
Other Game Stack Components
Other components of Game Stack include Visual Studio,
Mixer, DirectX, Azure App Center, Visual Studio, and Visual Studio Code, and Havok. In
the coming months, as we work to improve and grow Game Stack, you’ll see deeper
connections between these services as we unify them to work more seamlessly together.
As an example of how this integration is already
underway, today we’re bringing together PlayFab and these Game Stack components:
Crash log data from App Center is now connected to PlayFab,
allowing you to better understand and respond to problems in your game in real-time by
tying crash logs back to individual player profiles.
Visual Studio Code
With PlayFab’s new plug-in for Visual Studio Code, editing and
updating Cloud Script just got a lot easier.
Create Your World Today & Achieve More
As we expand our focus to the cloud, the nature of the
platform may be changing, but our commitment to empower game developers like yourself
is unwavering, and we’re looking forward to the journey ahead with Microsoft Game
Stack. Our teams are inspired and excited by the possibilities as we start to pull
together all these great services and technologies. Please be sure to share your
feedback with us as we go, so we can help you achieve more. If you’re at GDC, stop by
the Microsoft booth in the South Hall of the Moscone Center to try out many of the new
services, and to learn more about the exciting opportunities ahead.