(Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO of Sony Corporation and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella)
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Sony and Microsoft are rivals in the console space, but they might team up on game streaming.
The tech giants will explore the joint development of "future cloud solutions" on Microsoft's Azure platform to support their respective game and content streaming services, as well as "the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony's game and content-streaming service," according to an announcement.
In other words, Sony might use Microsoft's cloud infrastructure to deliver PlayStation Now, its current game-streaming service.
(Microsoft Project xCloud runs Forza on Android)
Many enterprises use Azure to deliver applications and manage online databases. Still, the news is surprising because Microsoft is also preparing its own Xbox game streaming service called Project xCloud, which will start public trials later this year. Project xCloud will also be powered by Azure, using datacenters outfitted with custom hardware to stream Xbox games to any device, including smartphones.
Whether Sony could one day offer its own PlayStation games over Microsoft's game-streaming service and vice-versa wasn't addressed. But both companies will soon compete against a new entrant: Google. Later this year, the search giant will launch Stadia, which will let you stream games on PCs, smartphones, and Chromecast-enabled TVs with only a 25Mbps internet connection. Amazon is also rumored to be planning a game streaming service as well.
In today's announcement, Sony CEO Kenichiro Yoshida said his mission is to evolve the PlayStation platform to ensure "the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere."
"I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content," he added.
Outside of gaming, the two companies will also explore collaboration on artificial intelligence and semiconductors, including building "new intelligent image sensor solutions" enterprises can use.
Expect more details in the future. But the partnership may end up resembling how Netflix relies on Amazon's AWS cloud platform to power its video-streaming service—even though Amazon has its own streaming service through Amazon Prime Video.