Cortana on Alexa, Xbox Live on Switch, xCloud on everything? Microsoft’s multi-platform future

In an upcoming teaser for GDC 2019, the Game Developers Conference trade show / expo which annually consists of a 5 day gathering for the game industry’s best and brightest, it has been revealed that Microsoft will bring Xbox Live to the Nintendo Switch as well as mobile platforms. This was confirmed by Microsoft who has also recently brought their voice assistant AI Cortana to Amazon’s smart speaker and smart home line of products as a downloadable Alexa skill. These two moves are significant on their own but also signal a greater long-term strategy which could change the face of Xbox gaming forever.

As part of a new initiative to move Microsoft into the multi-platform gaming scene with their well known Xbox brand, Project xCloud was announced last year and will see Xbox titles playable by mobile devices like iPads, iPhones, Android tablets, Android Smartphones, PCs and Laptops which cannot run games natively, and potentially more. It was immediately speculated that this could even make its way to PlayStation or Nintendo game consoles if Microsoft was willing, and the more unlikely scenario – if Sony and Nintendo were willing. This new confirmation that Xbox Live will arrive on iOS, Android, and Nintendo Switch sometime in the near future could be the first step towards such an agreement.

The future of Xbox gaming could be very different than what we see today with the Xbox One console which was designed by Don Mattrick. As Phil Spencer has been much more open minded, and finally gets his chance to design a console era of his own making, we are beginning to see how very different this visionary leader will be for the gaming brand responsible for many of today’s modern console innovations.

Project Scarlet, which was already confirmed to be in development during the Xbox E3 2018 Press Conference, is expected to be revealed this year as a lineup of consoles including a streaming-only box, a digital-only base model unit, and a traditional but extra powerful console which also had a few teases at AMD’s recent keynote / reveal for the Radeon VII GPU which saw Phil Spencer take stage to discuss the partnership between Xbox and AMD who claim to have made “the secret sauce” for both next-gen competitors’ home consoles. These devices paired with the multi-platform plans for the game streaming service xCloud which Phil Spencer hopes can become “The Netflix of Video Games” make up Microsoft’s next-generation gaming console selection.

Sony hasn’t been interested in cross-platform support for Xbox content since the PS4’s release, but that could change. Recently Nintendo and Microsoft teamed up to put pressure on Sony to cease locking Fortnite accounts on their platform leading to Sony granting full cross-platform support for a number of games including Rocket League. It’s also worth noting that the final names for all of these will be subject to change, and even though xCloud is compatible with any hardware, One thing is for sure, Xbox wants to become the Netflix of gaming complete with its own exclusive studios and top tier games. It’s nice to see the traditional console still being put first alongside such a futuristic approach. We wish Phil Spencer the best on this journey into next-generation gaming over the next few years.

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