PC gaming has changed a lot over the years. There was a time when any new game forced people to laboriously tinker with DOS settings and hardware configuration. Today things are a lot easier. PC gaming for most people simply means clicking on a button within their gaming client, and waiting for it to automatically download and install. However, this simplicity can be somewhat misleading.
A lot of the same work is still being done in order to keep games working as smoothly as possible on the PC. One of the biggest parts of this has to do with cloud storage and computing. Microsoft recently showed that cloud computing was becoming one of their most profitable interests. Most discussion of their cloud computing focuses on the business side of things. However, it’s important to consider that behind the scenes it’s really cloud computing driving the desktop gaming experience.
For a long time the primary mover and shaker in the world of PC gaming was DirectX. It was a set of programming protocols that let people create some amazing graphical effects with far less code than one might assume. DirectX is owned by Microsoft, and it served to tie games using it into their platform. Full DirectX support is only available on Windows and Xbox. However, the rise of cloud computing is making it increasingly viable to simply stream game data without actually rendering it through the host graphics processor. Early implementations of this idea are already available on Windows. Some games from Sony, for example, can stream to Windows based computers. And this is where Microsoft is really trying to gain a foothold for the next generation of games.
Valve jumped ahead of Microsoft when it came to game distribution. Microsoft doesn’t want to make that mistake again and are concentrating on regaining the edge which ownership of DirectX once gave them. With PC gaming becoming more platform agnostic, Microsoft can still retain the market by offering superior cloud computing platforms to actually serve gaming streams out to people’s desktop computers. Not only that, but in doing so they get larger portions of multiple markets. All the better for Microsoft if they can make money from the gaming sector when working on business solutions. And make money from the business sector when working on gaming solutions. Their new focus on cloud computing allows Microsoft a chance to once again lead the industry.