A new Microsoft XDK (Xbox Developer Kit) will enable game developers to connect players between Android, iOS, Switch and Xbox, the company has announced.
Currently only a tiny handful of games are truly device-agnostic and also playable on a smartphone, including the colossally popular Fortnite.
The pending release comes as Microsoft seeks to make itself the “Netflix of Gaming” amid anticipation that gaming will increasingly move to the cloud.
Microsoft hopes to make itself the managed services provider of choice for gaming companies; taking subscriptions to support multiplayer interactions and chats across billions of screens around the world via Azure.
In an overview of its keynote for the upcoming Game Developers Conference (GDC), Microsoft boasts that with the XDK release its Xbox Live community is about to expand its reach from 400 million to 2 billion devices.
Microsoft Team Xbox’s Jeffrey Shi and Ramsey Khadder wrote: “[The Microsof XDK will] enable game developers to connect players between iOS, Android, and Switch in addition to Xbox and any game in the Microsoft Store on Windows PCs.”
“Xbox Live players are highly engaged and active on Xbox and PC, but now they can take their gaming achievement history, their friends list, their clubs, and more with them to almost every screen. This will break down barriers for developers that want their communities to mingle more freely across platforms.”
The tease comes after Microsoft reported its strongest gaming revenue quarter ever and continues to expand aggressively. It acquired two new studios this quarter, bringing the total to 13 and more than doubling its first-party content capacity in six months.
Xbox Live monthly active users also hit a record 64 million in the quarter, with the highest number of mobile and PC users to date.
New Microsoft XDK: What’s the Aim?
The release targets game services engineers looking to save time and expand their customer base by letting Microsoft’s managed game services handle social, communication, and multiplayer interactions across billions of screens, Microsoft said.
It is also aimed at game producers looking to “plan a multi-platform strategy that brings the most active, engaged players into a community where they can watch, buy, play, pause, and continue their games from one device to the next on top of the most reliable social and multiplayer network in the world”
The news comes as Microsoft plans public trials of a new game streaming service known as Project xCloud this year.
The xCloud test runs on devices (mobile phones, tablets) paired with an Xbox Wireless Controller through Bluetooth, and it is also playable using touch input.
Microsoft has built custom hardware for its datacentres to support the offering.
This includes a new customisable blade that includes component parts of multiple Xbox One consoles, as well as the associated infrastructure supporting it.