During its many developer-focused talks at GDC 2022, Microsoft has announced a new publishing arm. The division, known as a new "Cloud Gaming Organization", is basically a publisher within a publisher, a way for developers to create completely cloud-based Xbox games for Microsoft.
The publisher is led by Kim Swift, a ex-Valve developer who joined Xbox last year. Swift says that this type of deal is often called "second party publishing", although this version is focused purely on cloud gaming.
We're focused on working with amazing development partners to create and ship games exclusive to the Xbox ecosystem.
That last part is noteworthy: this all about exclusive games. Alongside this initiative, Microsoft continues to build out its Xbox gaming division, with huge acquisitions like the Bethesda deal and of course, the ongoing merge with Activision Blizzard. Xbox exclusives are clearly a huge focus across Microsoft's gaming division.
Swift goes on to compare this publishing arm to Netflix, specifically when the TV service was just starting out.
Cloud gaming is still in its infancy, and the way that I personally think about it is using the example of Netflix.
When Netflix just got started they ultimately believed in streaming television and movies through the internet [...] They had to wait for the technology to catch up with their vision, but they were ready for it.
So, any actual games coming from this new plan could be years away, but it looks like Microsoft wants to be ready for when cloud gaming becomes a big deal. Sure, the tech is already around right now, but native games are still the big focus for most players.
This leaves us wondering what Xbox's upcoming hardware plans might be. Recent rumours point towards something new this year; could it turn out to be a cloud gaming 'stick'? We'll soon find out.
Do you enjoy streaming games? Or is it console-only for you? Let us know in the comments below.