Five months ago, on the stage of the 2018 edition of The Game Awards, Phil Spencer, Reggie Fils-Aime and Shawn Layden had surprised the world audience with a heartfelt speech on the importance of setting aside the console war to face the future as a united community, driven by the desire to celebrate the videogame medium together as forge of creativity and emotions .
An important message, which in the following months had led to an unexpected collaboration, materialized with the publication of Cuphead on Nintendo Switch. Now, with an equally unexpected turnaround, the leaders of Microsoft and Sony have announced a partnership that will see the company from Remond support PlayStation platforms with its own cloud technologies. A historic step which paves the way for a future of relaxation and full of promise
What can we expect, as players, from this new verdeblu coalition? Let's talk about it.
The art of peace
Before launching into forecasts fomented by a well-shaken mix of enthusiasm and common sense, it is certainly the case to analyze in more detail the state of things after the announcement last night . The one between Satya Nadella and Kenichiro Yoshida, respectively CEO of Microsoft and Sony, is a bilateral agreement that, at least for the moment, does not impose clear obligations on the two parties involved .
Despite being a legal document in all respects, much more significant than a declaration of intent followed by a friendly handshake, the memorandum of understanding signed by the two companies does not have the characteristics of a true contractual bond and own. Therefore we must take into consideration the possibility that, along the way, something happens that calls into question the terms and the aims of this surprising alliance.
A pact announced at a very special moment, less than a month after the most important communication appointment of the year, the E3 in Los Angeles, and a short distance from the scene of an unexpected actor, that Google with its cloud gaming system it clearly aims to claim for itself a slice of the market . As reiterated several times, and confirmed by the same Mountain View company, Stadia does not aim to become a direct competitor of PlayStation and Xbox, at least not in the near future, yet the company's position on one of the hottest fronts of the videogame future does not can be taken lightly. A particularly necessary prudence in the case of Sony, which is moving towards the generational horizon without a fully competitive technological infrastructure : with a gaming service on demand still lame, and apparently lacking in cloud computing solutions avant-garde, the Japanese giant is probably the least prepared for the "all digital" war. Weaknesses that the Tokyo home could fully compensate with Microsoft Azure support, improving every aspect of their online services.
Although it can count on decades of experience in the cloud, accompanied by a widespread distribution of datacenters in every part of the world, for its part Microsoft seems intent on playing in advance with a move that brings to mind one of the maximums of the Sun Tsu strategic genius: " don't count on the enemy's failed attack, but make sure you are unassailable ".
This does not mean however that the Redmond company has nothing to gain from the alliance with Sony, far from it. We are talking about a giant that currently dominates the console market with a production philosophy that has over time proved to be able to perfectly balance the creative side of the industry and the more commercial logic of a business to billions of dollars.
At stake there is also access to the Asian market, a historically bumpy terrain for the Xbox, and Sony's expertise could prove to be a key factor for Microsoft's interests beyond the Pacific, especially after the intensification of the investments on the first party side. All without considering the considerable advantages of having a customer of the caliber of Sony, especially in an area that remains – at the root – competitive.
It is, in short, a mutually beneficial coalition, with potentially very positive consequences for the videogame audience.
The best crossover ever
Fixed, at least theoretically, the terms and the purpose of the agreement, however, it is necessary to make a couple of arguments about the consequences of this surprising "crossover". Although Phil Spencer has repeatedly expressed his willingness to export Xbox branded products to as many platforms as possible, it is somewhat unlikely for Sony to welcome the services of its main competitor with open arms, much less his titles.
At present, in fact, it is difficult to believe that the company can follow in Nintendo's footsteps and open its doors to services such as Xbox Live, or alternatively guarantee access to the PS Now library for Microsoft users. As stimulating as it is the prospect in question, abandoning in full the partitioning of the offer would not bring great benefits to either of the two companies . On the other hand, the great N, given its self-imposed "outsider" role in the generational competition, is in a very different position from that of Sony, and it cannot be ruled out that Switch may in time become a sort of junction point among the cloud services of PlayStation and Xbox, albeit in a restricted form. A step that would substantially maintain the balance unaltered, given that access to content would probably be limited to titles with a relative weight in the multi-platform fight budget.
More "contamination" between Microsoft's and Sony's offer cannot clearly be ruled out entirely, at least until we have a clearer idea of the battlefield's layout for the next generation of consoles. However, the new agreement leads us to think that the hypothesis of a total cross-platform is not so remote given that all gaming machines could find themselves sharing the same online infrastructure. A scenario that has long inhabited the wet dreams of a majority of users, and which now appears increasingly plausible.
Also in this case it is not a particularly daring move on the competitive level, but a turning point that would leave the preferences of the players intact allowing them to feel part of a community without barriers . And perhaps this is precisely the key point, the most significant consequence of the handshake between Nadella and Yoshida: a gesture that we hope will lead to the demolition of the concept – obsolete and foolish – of console war, with all the conflicts that this generates within itself to the videogame community.
It remains to be seen how all the actors involved, Sony, Microsoft, Nintendo and Google, will move in the months to come, but we can already say that the horizon of the console market has never seemed so clear clear and promising .