For the past few years, Microsoft has been looking to get game developers to use Azure and other Microsoft cloud services. On March 23, Microsoft announced the launch of a couple more programs and services tailored specifically for independent game developers.
Microsoft is introducing its Azure Game Development Virtual Machine today, which is meant for developers to who want to test and build games in a production-ready cloud environment. The VMs will be preloaded with tools like Unreal Engine, Perforce, Incredibuild, Visual Studio, DirectX/GDK/PlayFab software development kits, and more.
The pre-built Game Development Virtual Machine enables developers to spin up game dev workstations or build servers in approximately five minutes, Microsoft officials said. Developers also can use a configured Game Dev VM as a base image for building custom workstation environments or build servers.
“We’re committed to making Azure the cloud of choice for game creators, so expect to see additional investments in the future, including: more powerful compute and GPUs; tighter partner integrations with improved cloud-native authentication; better end-to-end examples and documentation on running your game dev pipeline in 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 is making available today the ID@Azure program, which is similar to what it has done with the ID@Xbox program. ID@Azure is a free program meant to provide game developers with Microsoft tools and infrastructure for building games that can run on any platform. This program includes free services for validation and integration, educational resources and support for Azure experts.
The ID@Azure program was originally launched in December as an invitation-only closed beta program. As of today, it’s 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 for building and maintaining their games. In turn, all the work game developers do on Azure “informs and accelerates cloud computing,” officials have said.
In 2019, Microsoft announced the Microsoft Game Stack — a collection of cloud services like Azure, Power BI, PlayFab, Mixer and Xbox Live, plus various development tools — which it has been marketing to game devs. Microsoft bought PlayFab, a tool vendor for cloud-connected games, in 2018.