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Sony and Microsoft to explore strategic partnership

Companies to collaborate on new cloud-based solutions for gaming experiences and AI solutions

Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation, and Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft
Kenichiro Yoshida, President and CEO, Sony Corporation (left), and Satya Nadella, CEO, Microsoft

TOKYO and REDMOND, Wash. — May 16, 2019 — Sony Corporation (Sony) and Microsoft Corp. (Microsoft) announced on Thursday that the two companies will partner on new innovations to enhance customer experiences in their direct-to-consumer entertainment platforms and AI solutions.

Under the memorandum of understanding signed by the parties, the two companies will explore joint development of future cloud solutions in Microsoft Azure to support their respective game and content-streaming services. In addition, the two companies will explore the use of current Microsoft Azure datacenter-based solutions for Sony’s game and content-streaming services. By working together, the companies aim to deliver more enhanced entertainment experiences for their worldwide customers. These efforts will also include building better development platforms for the content creator community.

Sony logoAs part of the memorandum of understanding, Sony and Microsoft will also explore collaboration in the areas of semiconductors and AI. For semiconductors, this includes potential joint development of new intelligent image sensor solutions. By integrating Sony’s cutting-edge image sensors with Microsoft’s Azure AI technology in a hybrid manner across cloud and edge, as well as solutions that leverage Sony’s semiconductors and Microsoft cloud technology, the companies aim to provide enhanced capabilities for enterprise customers. In terms of AI, the parties will explore incorporation of Microsoft’s advanced AI platform and tools in Sony consumer products, to provide highly intuitive and user-friendly AI experiences.

“Sony is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. We collaborate closely with a multitude of content creators that capture the imagination of people around the world, and through our cutting-edge technology, we provide the tools to bring their dreams and vision to reality,” said Kenichiro Yoshida, president and CEO of Sony. “PlayStation® itself came about through the integration of creativity and technology. Our mission is to seamlessly evolve this platform as one that continues to deliver the best and most immersive entertainment experiences, together with a cloud environment that ensures the best possible experience, anytime, anywhere. 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. I believe that our joint development of future cloud solutions will contribute greatly to the advancement of interactive content. Additionally, I hope that in the areas of semiconductors and AI, leveraging each company’s cutting-edge technology in a mutually complementary way will lead to the creation of new value for society.”

“Sony has always been a leader in both entertainment and technology, and the collaboration we announced today builds on this history of innovation,” said Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft. “Our partnership brings the power of Azure and Azure AI to Sony to deliver new gaming and entertainment experiences for customers.”

Going forward, the two companies will share additional information when available.

About Sony Corporation

Sony Corporation is a creative entertainment company with a solid foundation of technology. From game and network services to music, pictures, electronics, semiconductors and financial services — Sony’s purpose is to fill the world with emotion through the power of creativity and technology. For more information, visit: http://www.sony.net/.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, rrt@we-worldwide.com

Sony Corporation, Corporate Communications & CSR Department, Sony.Pressroom@sony.co.jp

 

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at http://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

 

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Gaming fans: Gears Pro Circuit descends on Mexico City Feb. 1-3

Get ready for the Gears Pro Circuit Mexico City Open on February 1-3 at the World Trade Center in Mexico City, where top Gears Pro Circuit teams from around the world will compete for a $200,000 prize pool. Tickets are still available for fans to watch 70+ teams like OpTic Gaming, Denial and Ghost Gaming (the #1 LATAM team). There will also be a 2v2 Gnashers tournament on February 2 – registration begins on Saturday and is available to the first 100 spectators/pro players that sign-up.

Tune in to live.gearsofwar.com throughout the weekend to claim exclusive free in-game items including the new Glow and Mexico City weapons skins. If you want to fully immerse yourself in the Gears saga after the Gears Pro Circuit Mexico City Open, Xbox Game Pass members can now play every Gears of War game.

Have a great weekend Gears fans – we’ll see you from February 1-3 as teams battle it out in Mexico City! Be sure to visit www.gears.gg and follow @EsportsGears on Twitter to keep up-to-date with the latest information about Gears Esports.

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Project xCloud: Gaming with you at the center

YouTube Video

The future of gaming is a world where you are empowered to play the games you want, with the people you want, whenever you want, wherever you are, and on any device of your choosing. Our vision for the evolution of gaming is similar to music and movies — entertainment should be available on demand and accessible from any screen. Today, I’m excited to share with you one of our key projects that will take us on an accelerated journey to that future world: Project xCloud.

Today, the games you play are very much dictated by the device you are using. Project xCloud’s state-of-the-art global game-streaming technology will offer you the freedom to play on the device you want without being locked to a particular device, empowering YOU, the gamers, to be at the center of your gaming experience.

Content and community

Ultimately, Project xCloud is about providing gamers — whether they prefer console or PC — new  choices in when and where they play, while giving mobile-only players access to worlds, characters and  immersive stories they haven’t been able to experience before.

To realize this vision, we know we must make it easy for developers to bring their content to Project xCloud. Developers of the more than 3,000 games available on Xbox One today, and those building the thousands that are coming in the future, will be able to deploy and dramatically scale access to their games across all devices on Project xCloud with no additional work.

About Project xCloud

Scaling and building out Project xCloud is a multi-year journey for us. We’ll begin public trials in 2019 so we can learn and scale with different volumes and locations. Our focus is on delivering an amazing added experience to existing Xbox players and on empowering developers to scale to hundreds of millions of new players across devices. Our goal with Project xCloud is to deliver a quality experience for all gamers on all devices that’s consistent with the speed and high-fidelity gamers experience and expect on their PCs and consoles.

We’ve enabled compatibility with existing and future Xbox games by building out custom hardware for our datacenters that leverages our years of console and platform experience. We’ve architected a new customizable blade that can host the component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it. We will scale those custom blades in datacenters across Azure regions over time.

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We are testing Project xCloud today. The test runs on devices (mobile phones, tablets) paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller through Bluetooth, and it is also playable using touch input. The immersive nature of console and PC games often requires controls that are mapped to multiple keys, buttons, sticks and triggers. We are developing a new, game-specific touch input overlay that provides maximum response in a minimal footprint for players who choose to play without a controller.

Photo of a tablet in someone's hands
A game runs via Project xCloud with a prototype touch overlay.

Cloud game-streaming is a multi-faceted, complex challenge. Unlike other forms of digital entertainment, games are interactive experiences that dynamically change based on player input. Delivering a high-quality experience across a variety of devices must account for different obstacles, such as low-latency video streamed remotely, and support a large, multi-user network. In addition to solving latency, other important considerations are supporting the graphical fidelity and framerates that preserve the artist’s original intentions, and the type of input a player has available.

Microsoft — with our nearly 40 years of gaming experience starting with PC, as well as our breadth and depth of capabilities from software to hardware and deep experience of being a platform company — is well equipped to address the complex challenge of cloud game-streaming. With datacenters in 54 Azure regions and services available in 140 countries, Azure has the scale to deliver a great gaming experience for players worldwide, regardless of their location.

Map shows 54 dots around the world and is labeled "54 Azure regions"

Developers and researchers at Microsoft Research are creating ways to combat latency through advances in networking topology, and video encoding and decoding. Project xCloud will have the capability to make game streaming possible on 4G networks and will dynamically scale to push against the outer limits of what’s possible on 5G networks as they roll out globally. Currently, the test experience is running at 10 megabits per second. Our goal is to deliver high-quality experiences at the lowest possible bitrate that work across the widest possible networks, taking into consideration the uniqueness of every device and network.

We are looking forward to learning with you during our public trials next year and sharing more details as we continue on this journey to the future of gaming with you at the center. Stay tuned!

Thanx,

Kareem

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Play Windows games on Fedora with Steam Play and Proton

Some weeks ago, Steam announced a new addition to Steam Play with Linux support for Windows games using Proton, a fork from WINE. This capability is still in beta, and not all games work. Here are some more details about Steam and Proton.

According to the Steam website, there are new features in the beta release:

  • Windows games with no Linux version currently available can now be installed and run directly from the Linux Steam client, complete with native Steamworks and OpenVR support.
  • DirectX 11 and 12 implementations are now based on Vulkan, which improves game compatibility and reduces performance impact.
  • Fullscreen support has been improved. Fullscreen games seamlessly stretch to the desired display without interfering with the native monitor resolution or requiring the use of a virtual desktop.
  • Improved game controller support. Games automatically recognize all controllers supported by Steam. Expect more out-of-the-box controller compatibility than even the original version of the game.
  • Performance for multi-threaded games has been greatly improved compared to vanilla WINE.

Installation

If you’re interested in trying Steam with Proton out, just follow these easy steps. (Note that you can ignore the first steps to enable the Steam Beta if you have the latest updated version of Steam installed. In that case you no longer need Steam Beta to use Proton.)

Open up Steam and log in to your account. This example screenshot shows support for only 22 games before enabling Proton.

Now click on Steam option on top of the client. This displays a drop down menu. Then select Settings.

Now the settings window pops up. Select the Account option and next to Beta participation, click on change.

Now change None to Steam Beta Update.

Click on OK and a prompt asks you to restart.

Let Steam download the update. This can take a while depending on your internet speed and computer resources.

After restarting, go back to the Settings window. This time you’ll see a new option. Make sure the check boxes for Enable Steam Play for supported titles, Enable Steam Play for all titles and Use this tool instead of game-specific selections from Steam are enabled. The compatibility tool should be Proton.

The Steam client asks you to restart. Do so, and once you log back into your Steam account, your game library for Linux should be extended.

Installing a Windows game using Steam Play

Now that you have Proton enabled, install a game. Select the title you want and you’ll find the process is similar to installing a normal game on Steam, as shown in these screenshots.

After the game is done downloading and installing, you can play it.

Some games may be affected by the beta nature of Proton. The game in this example, Chantelise, had no audio and a low frame rate. Keep in mind this capability is still in beta and Fedora is not responsible for results. If you’d like to read further, the community has created a Google doc with a list of games that have been tested.

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‘Cuphead’ goes triple platinum

Hello friends! We’re barely past the halfway mark of 2018, and are humbled to announce that Cuphead has already reached over 3 million copies sold! It’s hard for us to express just how appreciative we are to everyone who has played and enjoyed our niche little run & gun game with the wacky rubber-hose characters.

To celebrate this huge milestone, we’re putting Cuphead on sale on Steam and Xbox for the next couple of days! So if you haven’t had a chance to wallop the Devil, it’s a good day for a swell battle!

We’ll also be marking the occasion here at Studio MDHR with some extra-special giveaways over the next few days. Keep an eye out on Twitter or Facebook for some fun surprises.

Looking back, 2018 has been a very exciting year for us.

The big highlight, of course, was getting the chance to pull the curtain back on the project we’ve been working on since the original game’s release: our upcoming DLC, The Delicious Last Course!

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We’ve also been so fortunate to be able to share in the adventure with some amazing people. We met the legendary animator James Baxter at this year’s Annie Awards in February, and somehow managed to convince him to do an on-stage animation collaboration with us at E3!

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In June, we cheered on the amazing Mexican Runner as he delivered a lightning fast and hilariously entertaining speedrun at Summer Games Done Quick 2018. It’s such a thrill to see people still finding new and exciting ways to explore the Inkwell Isles.

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So while we’ll mostly have our pencils to paper for the rest of the year, we still have a couple little tricks up our sleeve before the end of 2018. Stay tuned to our social channels to be the first to know! Hi dee ho!