Microsoft hints at developer acquisitions and game streaming service

Xbox intends to bolster its range of first party games in a strategic shift back toward software.

In an interview with Bloomberg, Xbox boss Phil Spencer – who was recently promoted to a role where he reports directly to Microsoft boss Satya Nadella – has said that the company is looking to increase development investment. This could take the form of both opening new studios and acquiring existing ones.

“We need to grow, and I look forward to doing that,” Spencer explained. “Our ability to go create content has to be one of our strengths. We haven’t always invested at the same level. We’ve gone through ups and downs in the investment.”

Spencer also revealed plans to launch a game streaming service some time in the “next three years”, which would free Microsoft’s gaming aspirations from the need for hardware entirely.

Apparently there was even an internal streaming games trial at Microsoft in 2012, but the costs were deemed to be too high and the plan didn’t progress. However, the company’s expanding Azure cloud computing network now makes this more plausible – as does the existence of Sony’s PlayStation Now service, perhaps.

Software-led announcements may feel odd on the day that Microsoft launches a brand new console – the Xbox One X – but is actually very much in keeping with way the Microsoft winds have been blowing.

With Microsoft games now routinely launching across both Xbox and PC, the company has for some time now been talking about how it sees the product as the content and not the platform.

It’s also true that the company’s first party game catalogue is looking pretty slim at the moment. Indeed, the Xbox One X launches without much in the way of flagship hardware to drive sales. If the tide is to be turned regarding its rivalry to Sony, then strong software does appear to be the best way of going about it.

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