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Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Azure are launching services specifically tailored to the needs of game developers.

Microsoft has tried to get game developers to use Azure and other Microsoft cloud services in recent years. On March 23, Microsoft announced the launch of several additional programs and services tailored specifically for independent game developers.

Microsoft yesterday unveiled its Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, intended for developers who want to test and develop games in a production-ready cloud environment. The VMs will come preloaded with tools like Unreal Engine, Perforce, Incredibuild, Visual Studio, DirectX/GDK/PlayFab Software Development Kits, and more.

According to Microsoft, the preconfigured Game Development Virtual Machine allows developers to set up game development workstations or build servers in about five minutes. Developers can also use a configured Game Dev VM as a base image for creating their workstation environments or building servers.

“We are committed to making Azure the cloud of choice for game developers. Therefore, expect more investments in the future, including: more powerful compute and graphics processors, tighter partner integrations with improved cloud-native authentication, better end-to-end examples and documentation for running your game development pipeline on Azure, better options for cloud Pipelines leveraging Xbox development, and more,” said Ben Humphrey, Principal Software Engineer for Azure, in today’s blog post about the VM.

In addition, Microsoft yesterday made available the ID@Azure program, which is similar to the ID@Xbox program. ID@Azure is a free program that provides game developers with the Microsoft tools and infrastructure to develop games that can run on any platform. This program includes free validation and integration services, educational resources, and Azure expert support.

The ID@Azure program initially launched in December as an invitation-only closed beta program. As of yesterday, it is generally available.

Microsoft’s xCloud game streaming service runs on Azure. Game developers, including Microsoft itself, already have access to Bing Maps, Microsoft Mesh, Bing Maps, Azure AI, PlayFab developer services, and other Microsoft cloud technologies to develop and maintain their games. The work that game developers do on Azure “informs and accelerates cloud computing,” it says.

AWS with new services for game developers

Amazon Web Services (AWS) also relies on games. Amazon on Wednesday unveiled AWS for Games, a suite of products and services from AWS and its partners specifically for the gaming industry. It’s the latest initiative by Amazon Web Services and its competitors to underscore the enormous market opportunity that games represent for cloud providers.

Gaming has been an important market for Amazon for some time. AWS has offered dedicated services for gaming for several years, with Amazon GameLift being introduced in 2016. In addition to the cloud, the company has Amazon Game Studios and the game streaming service Twitch, which Amazon acquired in 2014.

However, given market trends and forecasts, it’s no surprise that the cloud industry is expanding its offerings. Newzoo forecasts that the global cloud gaming market will reach $6.5 billion by 2024, up from $1.57 billion last year.

“The advent of the cloud has transformed the way games are developed, distributed, and played,” said Bill Vass, VP of AWS Engineering, in a statement. “Game developers are accelerating their journey to the cloud, building their games faster and running them with continuous updates while growing their player base and game engagement.”

The launch of AWS for Games and other new services and solutions should help customers tackle high-priority workloads while increasing the use of game analytics, live operations, and artificial intelligence.

AWS for Games offers game-specific services and products and partner support in six areas: Cloud Game Development, Game Servers, Game Security, Live Operations, Game Analytics, and Game AI & ML. Initiative partners include AMD, AppsFlyer, Beamable, Databricks, Epic Games, Incredibuild, NVIDIA, Parsec, Perforce, Slalom, Snowflake, and Teradici.

In addition to this new initiative, AWS Wednesday announced a preview of Amazon GameSparks, a fully managed service built on AWS that facilitates the creation, optimization, and scaling of game backend functions. The company also announced the general availability of AWS GameKit. This open-source solution enables game developers to deploy and customize backend functions for games directly from a game engine with just a few clicks, enabling the integration of cloud-based services to be reduced from weeks to days.

There are also new Amazon Nimble Studio guides for game developers, making it possible to set up a virtual game studio in hours, scale capacity as needed, and create content faster and more cost-effectively.

Last year, Google Cloud also showed its commitment to the cloud gaming market when it created a new leadership position focused on gaming solutions.


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