Microsoft has rebranded its game development group Microsoft Studios as Xbox Game Studios, another indication of the company’s desire to spread the Xbox name and platform beyond the console.
Microsoft says it has 13 distinct gaming teams under the Xbox Game Studios umbrella, building titles such as Age of Empires, Forza, Gears of War, Halo and Minecraft. Microsoft beefed up its ability to churn out its own games in 2018 with the acquisition of seven new studios, including the studio behind the Forza franchise, Playground Games.
Xbox has the power of everything else Microsoft does — from its powerful cloud computing operation to Windows 10 — behind it, a unique advantage as it battles Sony and Nintendo. Microsoft is taking advantage of this by expanding Xbox beyond the constraints of traditional gaming.
In October, Microsoft unveiled a new service called Project xCloud to give gamers across consoles, PCs, and mobile devices access to a library of more than 3,000 games developed for Xbox. The new game streaming service builds on Game Pass, a service launched in June 2017 that charges gamers $9.99 per month in exchange for the ability to download more than 100 Xbox One and Xbox 360 games, including first-party Xbox-exclusive titles like Halo, Forza, Gears of War, and others.
In perhaps the biggest expansion yet of Xbox’s reach, Microsoft is preparing to extend Xbox Live compatibility to several additional platforms through a new software development kit, including Android and iOS mobile devices and the Nintendo Switch. In a potentially seismic move for the video game industry, an expanded Xbox Live could reach billions of devices around the world.
Microsoft has yet to discuss the plan publicly. However, such a move would fit with the tech giant’s strategy under CEO Satya Nadella. Microsoft has increasingly been seeking to make its apps and services work across a variety of platforms, including those that the company has traditionally considered rivals.