A SURPRISE games deal between Sony and Microsoft may be the final nail in the coffin for Xbox and PlayStation consoles.
The tech behemoths have put their fierce rivalry aside to form a partnership on video games streaming.
Alamy Sony, maker of PlayStation, is linking up with Xbox creator Microsoft
Microsoft’s Xbox and Sony’s PlayStation are mysteriously missing from the pair’s announcement, leading some fans to speculate the consoles are being canned.
While the upcoming PS5 and Xbox Two are all but confirmed, some fear they could be the last consoles of their respective series.
Microsoft and Sony’s new partnership will focus on cloud streaming.
The high-tech platforms will allow people to stream games directly from the internet – a bit like watching Netflix instead of a DVD.
AFP or licensors Some fans are worried that cloud streamed video games will spell the end for physical consoles
It’ll eliminate the need for disks or lengthy downloads, but could spell the death of consoles, as it’ll allow you to play top games through your web browser.
Through the surprise linkup, it’s expected Sony will host its upcoming PlayStation streaming service on Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform.
Microsoft has been testing an Xbox streaming service of its own.
As well as cloud gaming, the firms said they would work together on artificial intelligence and semiconductor tech.
Video game streaming – how does it work?We explain it all…
When you watch a movie, the images you see are already prepared
That’s why very unsophisticated computers inside your TV, DVD player, or computer can playback film footage
But video games render the visuals in real-time, because a game never knows what you’ll do next
That means you need much more computing heft to produce game visuals, compared to a standard movie
So if you want amazing 4K PC-style graphics, you’ll need to fork out for an expensive computer
Alternatively, you could use game streaming technology
The idea is that a company like Google, Microsoft or Sony would handle the generation of the visuals on powerful computers at its own HQ
Then it would send what’s effectively a video of that game to your smartphone
You tap and play, and those commands get sent back to Microsoft or Sony, which then inputs them into the game, and sends you the visuals again
Because modern internet connections are so fast, this all happens in milliseconds
The resulting effect is 4K PC-style graphics on a smartphone – which is only possible because it’s not the phone itself rendering the graphics
It also means that you could potentially be playing an Xbox or PlayStation game on your console, and then leave the house and carry on playing using your iPhone
This sort of technology could eventually kill off gaming consoles for good, because all you’d need is a TV with game-streaming tech built in, and a controller to play with
But game streaming hasn’t had any great successes thus far
Sony bought a game-streaming called OnLive, but shut it down in 2015
And Nvidia has its own game-streaming service, but laggy performance has prevented it from becoming a mainstream choice
The next major service expected to launch is Google Stadia, which many are hopeful will be a success
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“For many years, Microsoft has been a key business partner for us, though of course the two companies have also been competing in some areas,” said Sony boss Kenichio Yoshida.
“I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content.”
Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, said: “Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation.”
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