Cloud this, cloud that; will there ever be another tech release without some jazzed up spokesperson jamming a string of cumulonimbus-related catchphrases into the mix?
Likely not, if the Xbox One is any indication of what we can expect from here on out. Earlier today, Microsoft announced that their always-on, Kinect embedded spy machine would be built on top of the Azure cloud platform, whose primary function will be to relay “player information” and “usage statistics” back to home base.
We’ve known from the start the XBox one would be interacting with Azure as a part of its overall scheme for data distribution, and today Xbox Live program manager John Bruno explained in the official blog how these features would work in tandem with game studios, well as what players should expect from their new consoles when they boot up for the first time on November 22nd.
In exchange for unfettered access to free servers hosted on the Azure network, developers will have the option (read: requirement) to offload processing power, loading tasks, and save games out to the cloud. This means the choices you make and moves you take will be recorded by game companies, who will then turn around and use the data to improve common problems for upcoming patches and DLC.
The Azure team claims this is primarily an exercise in retrieving user experience data, along with allowing developers the opportunity to open their games up to much larger multiplayer experiences. Instead of the standard 16 or 32 player arenas we’ve become accustomed to on Xbox Live over the past eight years, game lobbies will now be able to support “hundreds” of characters on the same map. With games like Destiny exhitbiting this technology on the PS4, it’s not surprising to see Microsoft taking their answer to Sony’s upcoming console in a similar direction.
“We expect that this platform will help our development community build more of their games as services – games that are intelligent, immersive and continuously evolving experiences for the players – powered by Microsoft’s ever-expanding cloud infrastructure.”
Some analysts believe that while there are significant benefits to sharing chunks of gaming power with more powerful servers that are just a broadband connection away, the technology is also highly susceptible to DRM tactics we’ve become all too familiar with these days. Save game “brownouts” are also a very real threat to the service, presenting the same issues that plagued always-online games like Diablo 3 months after its initial launch.
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