Microsoft debuts new cloud-based tools targeting indie game developers

Microsoft’s Game Stack products.

Microsoft wants more indie game developers to use its cloud services with the debut of a new suite of cloud-based tools called ID@Azure.

The program, announced as part of the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco, is intended to help “game creators and publishers learn how to adopt, develop, operate, and grow their games with cloud services,” Xbox exec Sarah Bond wrote in a blog post.

Microsoft has also launched what it calls the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, which comes preloaded with game dev programs such as the Unreal Engine, Visual Studio, Blender, Incredibuild, and Perforce.

In theory, with a decent internet connection, the Virtual Machine lets a team set up common tools, drivers, and SDKs on a usable cloud server, then pipe into that server with whatever computers they happen to have lying around using Parsec‘s remote access tech.

You’d theoretically be able to build high-end games on low-end computers via the cloud, without needing to have expensive and/or specialized hardware on hand. It would also mean that every member of a distributed team would have equal access to the same tools, regardless of their individual budget or physical location.

Bond noted that the pandemic forced studios to rethink how game development work gets done.

“We’ve learned quite a bit in that time and believe that by shifting game production to the cloud, studios large and small benefit from rich collaboration and greater workflow automation even across vast distances,” she wrote.

The ID@Azure program works along similar lines. It’s been in a closed beta at Microsoft since December, and is now generally available. The goal of the program is to help independent developers leverage Microsoft’s cloud services to assist their production process.

See also  Zain Nadella, 1996-2022: Microsoft CEO’s son remembered for love of music, profound impact on his dad

Members of the ID@Azure program receive up to $5,000 in Azure credits, with $500 available initially; access to the Azure PlayFab toolset for building and operating live game services, such as multiplayer; and direct support from Microsoft, including a weekly video call with the Azure team.

The TLDR on this announcement is that small studios without much of a budget now have the option of throwing money at Microsoft to receive a leg up via software-as-a-service.

Microsoft previously made a lot of inroads into the indie gaming community via ID@Xbox, which had made over $1.5 billion for developers by August 2020. That led to some substantial, albeit relatively low-profile success for the initiative, with over 2,000 games published since the program started in 2014. (Notably, ID@Xbox games typically aren’t Xbox exclusives; the 2000th ID@Xbox game, Swimsanity, is available for everything with buttons.) In theory, ID@Azure is positioned to achieve similar results in a different environment.

For the average Xbox owner, this could theoretically lead to another bumper crop of indie games coming to the platform in the next few years, many if not all of which would be playable via cloud gaming.

[Errata, 9:25 AM: Clarification on the goal of ID@Azure.]

Related Posts

What is Microsoft Sharepoint?

What Is Microsoft Sharepoint And Its Outstanding Advantages

The questions we are most frequently asked about what is Microsoft Sharepoint?, SharePoint’s benefits and capabilities are listed here. We sincerely hope you can use these! What…

EU approves Microsoft’s $19.7B Nuance deal, clearing last major hurdle for big acquisition

Microsoft Image The European Commission gave unconditional approval to Microsoft’s pending acquisition of speech technology company Nuance Communications for $19.7 billion in cash, clearing the way for…

Surface Trio? Newly discovered Microsoft patent filing shows hinged device with three displays

A diagram for three-screen device from a Microsoft patent filing. (U.S. Patent & Trademark Office) Microsoft has released two versions of its Surface Duo handheld device, each…

Paul Allen’s L.A. site sells for $65M, part of effort to scale back late Microsoft co-founder’s projects

Late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. (Vulcan Photograph) A 120-acre site bought by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen for $20 million in 1997 within the Beverly Crest…

Microsoft’s Pluton security processor debuts on AMD chips in new Lenovo ThinkPad laptops

New ThinkPad Series Z laptops from Lenovo will include Microsoft’s Pluton security processors in an AMD CPU. (Lenovo Image) Lenovo unveiled two new laptops made out of…

‘Rainbow Six’ developer plans to bring Ubisoft+ subscription service to Xbox

Ubisoft’s forthcoming Rainbow Six: Extraction pits crack military operatives against invasive alien not-zombies. (Ubisoft Image) The third-party development studio behind the Assassin’s Creed and Tom Clancy video…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *