Sony has gone on record in the past that it doesn’t see Nintendo as competition. Now, Microsoft is one-upping everyone by saying it doesn’t see Nintendo or Sony as its competition. Speaking with Protocol, the head of Xbox at Microsoft, Phil Spencer, said so explicitly, instead citing Amazon and Google as their real competition moving into the future. He isn’t just blowing smoke though. There’s a nuanced reasoning dealing with technological infrastructure behind it.
Microsoft vs. Amazon vs. Google vs. not Sony or Nintendo?
Spencer said the following: “When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors going forward. That’s not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but we’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years.”
Microsoft Azure is of course a major cloud service, and Amazon and Google are indeed direct competitors in that space. And it is true that Sony and Nintendo do not have that vertical integration with cloud that Microsoft enjoys. Still, to say that not even Sony is competition is a stretch. For instance, most would agree that PlayStation 5 is a greater threat to sales of Xbox Series X than Google Stadia.
Regardless, Spencer also offered some words about his willingness to cooperate with Nintendo and Sony to enable things like cross-play, saying, “I don’t want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to 7 billion people around the world. Ultimately, that’s the goal.”
Toward that end, you can’t fault Spencer for not being future-facing. Just because Amazon and Google are largely a bumbling joke when it comes to video games right now doesn’t mean that they can’t clean up their act in a dangerous way in the future.