Microsoft launches new tools for cloud-based game development

SAN FRANCISCO — Microsoft on Wednesday announced the availability of new Azure-based cloud tools for game developers as part of its announcements at the annual Game Developers Conference.

These new offerings are designed to make it easier and more affordable to create video games using the same types of infrastructure used by its Xbox Game Studios and the maker’s own suite of productivity tools and services Windows. This can be especially useful for businesses that have gone hybrid or fully remote during the pandemic and are now relying on cloud-based tools to work with distributed teams around the world.

The first announcement is the wide availability of Microsoft’s [email protected]ure program, an extension of its [email protected] program focused on independent developers. The program was first announced last year and entered a closed beta phase in December. It’s meant to be an “on-ramp,” as the company puts it, for smaller creators to start making games using cloud-based tools while avoiding high cost and technical complexity. the use of custom solutions running on expensive hardware.

These tools include software platforms that support remote access, so game designers can use less powerful hardware to remotely access powerful workstations, as well as multiplayer and cross-platform services based on the cloud.

These moves fuel Microsoft’s larger gaming ambition to grow its Xbox Game Pass subscription service and cloud gaming platform with more titles that can be played on smartphones, web browsers, and all sorts of games. other screens. After all, if more games are created using Microsoft’s tools and are in line with the company’s vision of making games available on all devices, those games are more likely to make it to the platforms. Xbox and will support Microsoft’s various platforms and services.

“In order for people to play any game on any device, developers need the right tools to make games playable on those devices,” program director Nick Ferguson said in a blog post. . “The cloud is a crucial part of how we deliver this, whether it’s the backend components that power more gaming experiences, or the technology that puts your games in the hands of greater numbers of players.”

The company’s second announcement is an Azure Virtual Machine, so developers can purchase access to a powerful remote computer that can be synchronized with a project’s workflow. Microsoft says the virtual machine comes preloaded with a number of cloud apps and game development tools, including Unity’s Parsec for remote access and Epic’s Unreal Engine.

“This allows developers to quickly build a working game development workstation or create a server in about five minutes, allowing easier validation of pipeline performance, extracting code/art assets from a Perforce repository to develop and test games directly from the cloud,” said Azure Principal Software Engineer Ben Humphrey. “Plus, it saves hours of downloads and setups to get the environment needed to build games.”