Microsoft Azure for gaming

Ben Gannon, Data and AI Specialist at Phoenix explores why the emergence of gaming streaming services may lead to game developers exploring Microsoft Azure as an alternative platform for building games.

“Due to an increase in gaming culture, in recent years we’ve seen a trend emerge for game streaming platforms, with top tech companies developing services like Google Stadia, NVIDIA GeForce Now and Project X Cloud to meet public demand. It’s no surprise then that this popular topic, and how AI has developed over the years and is being leveraged by modern titles, has been widely discussed by many industry experts.

But, with cloud solutions increasing in popularity, what are the benefits of considering other less explored game hosting platforms, such as Microsoft Azure for gaming?

Why Azure for cloud gaming?

Flexibility, resiliency and scalability are common features across all cloud services, giving your organisation (or even a single user hosting a multiplayer server to play via) the ability to adapt quickly and seamlessly to change, delivering a great gaming experience for players worldwide, regardless of their device and location.

Azure also allows organisations to take advantage of high availability, disaster recovery, and backup via Microsoft’s global network, which means that those annoying dips in connectivity and loss of service happen less frequently when you host on the Cloud. It goes without saying that this is an extremely important feature for gamers who don’t want to lose game progress or experience network outages during game play.

Companies including Rare, Ubisoft, and Wizards of the Coast are already using Azure to host multiplayer game servers, securely store player data, analyse game telemetry, protect their games from DDOS attacks, and train AI to create more immersive gameplay.

But, why Microsoft Azure rather than Amazon or Google who also offer these benefits?

While many gaming companies do host their games on AWS or Google Cloud, neither of these can rightfully claim to be a gaming company. Microsoft however, created the Xbox and is also committed to supporting gaming for PC users, allowing it to officially position itself as a brand within the gaming industry.

Microsoft’s experience in developing and delivering games, means that it has created technologies to alleviate common pain points and challenges, and provide customers with a smooth gaming experience.

What services or tools are available via Azure to help deliver gaming experiences?

There are a number of tools available in Azure to help you to build and deliver cloud hosted games:

  1. Azure PlayFab: games services, data analytics and LiveOps tools for building and operating live games, which allows your game to launch faster, and benefit from extended game lifecycle and reduced costs.
  2. Azure DevOps: a team collaboration tool, which allows developers to plan work, work together on code development, and build and deploy applications, either in the cloud using Azure DevOps Services or on-premises using Azure DevOps Server.
  3. Azure Cognitive Services: a collection of AI services and cognitive APIs to help you build intelligent apps, which allows developers of all skill levels to easily add AI capabilities to their apps.
  4. Azure Spatial Anchors: allows you to easily build immersive 3D applications and experiences where players can find nearby content, share and play mixed reality experiences in a real-world location, and continue games and puzzles for discovery in the future.
  5. Visual Studio: a platform featuring tools to design assets, write shader code and debug and profile graphics to help you to develop and build high-performance 2D and 3D games in DirectX to run on a variety of Windows devices, including desktops, tablets, and phones.
  6. Azure DDoS Protection: helps protect all Azure services against DDoS attacks in a virtual network.
  7. Kubernetes on Azure: a managed container orchestration service, used to deploy, scale and manage Docker containers and container-based applications across a group of container hosts.
  8. Microsoft Game Stack: collates all Microsoft’s game-development platforms, tools, and services with the aim of helping developers to easily find the tools and services needed to create and operate games.

If you are interested in learning more about Azure as the future of game hosting, how you can help your students develop skills in this area, or any of the services or tools mentioned above, please contact Phoenix on 01904 562200 or email [email protected].

Ben Murden
Ben Murden

Ben has over two decades in the IT industry, delivering both online and offline campaigns across all platforms to meet business goals and objectives. Joining Phoenix in 1999 as a graphic designer, Ben has evolved over the years into a fully-rounded marketing professional, before being promoted to Phoenix Marketing Manager early in 2018, reporting directly to the MD. With his background in creative design, Ben takes projects from inception to execution and can identify the correct strategy based on the subject, audience, and goals – while increasing the brand profile and revenue. His passion for digital marketing is evident in everything he does, and both vendors and strategic partners often comment on his incredibly positive attitude to ‘make things happen’.

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