Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Will the Xbox evolve into a cloud gaming platform?

A comment from Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer, raises some interesting questions about the future of the Xbox gaming platform.

Speaking at Microsoft's major World Partner Conference, Ballmer said of Microsoft's upcoming Kinect add-on:

"Kinect is this camera that comes with a sensor that allows you to control the Xbox with movements of your body and voice control - there's enough intelligence in the device to be controlled through those inputs. Devices want to be smart in context with the cloud."

The cloud? Ballmer spent almost all of his 30-odd minute presentation on that topic, which also included teaser information on how the Microsoft cloud platform would relate to other consumer devices, such as slates and smartphones.

That the Xbox platform was brought up at all is interesting - cloud computing and gaming has had a limited link in the past, with the first real shot at bringing the two together coming with services such as OnLive and Steam - console gaming in particular has been relatively divorced from cloud previously.

Ballmer also said "we see it with PCs and smart phones, and we see it in the television environment. The world of tomorrow is of smart clouds talking to smart devices. We and the people we compete with wll disagree with which smart clients it will be, but we are all going there."

So does that mean more cloud-like services will be rolled into the Xbox gaming platform? Video streaming, which the Xbox does do, is essentially a cloud service, but here Ballmer seems to be suggesting that Microsoft sees gaming heading in that direction as well.

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