Microsoft said it has acquired Seattle gaming startup PlayFab, in a bid to strengthen its position in the more than $100 billion market.
PlayFab started four years ago, and it gives developers a back end platform to build, launch and manage games. It provides services like data storage, friend lists, leaderboards, custom game server hosting and in-game purchasing for clients ranging from small independent studios to major publishers.
The trend lately in gaming is away from physical discs, and toward games that live in the cloud and are updated frequently.
“Built well, these backend systems enabled games to engage, retain, and monetize players like never before, with longevity in the top grossing charts measured in years. Built poorly, they crashed and burned on launch day,” James Gwertzman, PlayFab co-founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.
PlayFab’s platform powers more than 1,200 games from companies like Disney, Angry Birds-maker Rovio and Atari. Microsoft’s Kareem Choudhry wrote in a blog post that the platform makes it easier for developers to build games and not have to worry about the back end technology.
In their blog posts, the two companies didn’t dive deep into how they will integrate with each other. Microsoft said PlayFab’s “platform is a natural complement to Azure for gaming.” Gwertzman wrote that Azure’s massive global footprint will help PlayFab offer an “entirely new level of features, resources, and support.”
PlayFab spun out from Uber Entertainment, another Seattle games company. Gwertzman started the company after working for eight years at PopCap, which sold to Electronic Arts for more than $750 million in 2011. His co-founder is Matt Augustine, who previously worked at Uber Entertainment and Microsoft.
The acquisition of PlayFab is another example of Microsoft’s gaming push. In 2016, Microsoft acquired game streaming startup Beam and later rebranded it Mixer. New features have steadily been added to Mixer, most recently a redesigned mobile app.