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Microsoft at GDC: Powering Games, Empowering Creators

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Every few years, the games industry undergoes a transformation. A reinvention of itself. New platforms and new technologies make way for new genres, new gameplay, and new IP. Today, we're in the midst of one of those transformative moments. Remote work is changing how games are made, cloud streaming is changing where games are built and played, and cross-platform play is changing who people can play with. The Game Developers Conference (GDC) is all about opening the conversation to help game developers navigate these transitions and coming together as a community to help learn from each other, solve problems together, and grow together.

We couldn't be more excited to come together as an industry at this pivotal moment of change and innovation.

Microsoft is committed to powering games and empowering the creators who make them across any platform, virtually anywhere in the world. While we will have a light presence at GDC in-person this year, our commitment to engaging with the game development community is as strong as ever. That's why we are delivering 27 technical talks and nine demos this week, addressing topics spanning graphics, performance optimization, cloud development/production, accessibility, and more. To reach more game developers, all the talks are available on-demand at our newly refreshed game dev website: aka.ms/GDC. That's also where you'll find a fireside chat where Xbox CEO Phil Spencer and I discuss trends in game development and share our thoughts around ways we can continue supporting the industry.

Much of our efforts are centered on helping game creators and publishers learn how to adopt, develop, operate, and grow their games with cloud services. We can't wait to share more:

Game Production in the Cloud
As Microsoft, our studios have experienced the challenges of remote development over the past two years – like so many, we've had to reimagine how teams come together and create. We've learned quite a bit in that time, and believe the cloud is quickly becoming the backbone of modern game development. That's why we are focused on making Azure a meaningful cloud platform for developers of all sizes to build, host, and grow their games. We are customizing Azure for game development with solutions for every phase of a game's lifecycle, starting with cloud-enabled game production through LiveOps support for player communities, telemetry analytics, and UGC marketplaces.

Today, we're announcing the launch of the new Azure Game Development Virtual Machine, a powerful solution allowing game developers to create and test their games within a production-ready cloud native environment. The Game Development Virtual Machine is built by game developers, for game developers, running on Azure cloud. The Game Development Virtual Machine comes preloaded with essential game development tools including Epic Unreal Engine, Perforce, Incredibuild, Visual Studio, Parsec, Teradici and much more.

With all this at their fingertips, the Game Development Virtual Machine helps developers navigate the new era of distributed development by eliminating the need to have local specialty hardware onsite, and by making it easy for teams to operate from the same centralized server. It will quickly become an essential tool for developer teams, removing the need to set up local compute infrastructure while saving hours of setting up common game development tools, drivers, and SDKs on individual machines. It also reduces friction, increases agility, and provides flexibility for studios looking to migrate and test cloud native remote creation, build and game testing. With its integration to Azure PlayFab, the Game Development Virtual Machine enables a seamless workflow from game creation all the way through to connecting with players.

To learn more about our Game Development Virtual Machine, you can read more here.

Keeping communities connected with Azure PlayFab
While shifting game production to the cloud helps address how games are made, we are equally focused on helping developers solve for what they are making. As we work to help empower everyone to play anywhere, anytime, with anyone they want, we are breaking down barriers to let developers connect their communities, regardless of the platform they're on.

Azure PlayFab has always been platform agnostic, and now, we are announcing a new PlayFab Matchmaking tool that connects players across platforms. Additionally, we're announcing several updates to Azure PlayFab Multiplayer Services based on developer feedback to our Public Preview. These updates include new real-time notifications from our Matchmaking Service to put together the right group of players more efficiently; the introduction of a new PlayFab Lobby Service (public preview) to manage multiplayer sessions and offers real-time notifications of any player changes during a session, and the launch of PlayFab User Generated Content (UGC) from public preview, a tool that delivers an easy-to-integrate in-game marketplace, saving developers time, money and resources.

Click here to learn more.

ID@Azure is here
Also today, we are announcing the worldwide availability of the ID@Azure program, which is an onramp for game developers into one of the world's most reliable and secure clouds, complete with platform agnostic tools and services that meet the unique needs of game developers. Azure has been tested by studios from across the industry and proven to help developers create, manage, and run games faster and more efficiently using cloud computing.

Whether building for console, PC, mobile devices, or VR, the ID@Azure program can support all types of developers. Those who join the program get a free Azure PlayFab standard plan, access to PlayFab Party services, Live Ops party services, free credits, and much more to start.

ID@Azure program members have access to a comprehensive support package, providing access to tools and expertise that will help any dev build and maintain the success and operational heath of their games. This support includes access to the Azure Rapid Response team, office hours with the Azure team, PlayFab Premium Support, and individual expert sessions. There are also educational resources to get started, or to help those looking to switch cloud providers. It is the kind of program developers need, and we are so happy to be rolling it out.

To get started with ID@Azure, read more here or visit azure.com/id.


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