Microsoft wants you to build your next game in the cloud

Microsoft today announced the launch of the Azure Game Development Virtual Machine at the annual Game Developers Conference in San Francisco. In partnership with the likes of Unreal Engine, Perforce Helix Core, Parsec, Incredibuild, Blender and HP’s remote desktop platform Teradici, Microsoft’s cloud platform now offers a game development workstation in the cloud that can be set up in minutes. The new VM is now in public preview.

As Microsoft notes, game studios can get started with the default workstation built and then use this as a base image and customize it as they become more experienced with Azure. The company also expects to build upon this first iteration and add new tooling over time, as well as deeper integrations with its partner network.

“At Microsoft, we are focused on strengthening our commitment to making Azure the cloud of choice for game creators so that they can take advantage of the benefits of cloud,” Ben Humphrey, principal software engineer, Microsoft Azure, writes in today’s announcement.

At the core of the development workflow here is the Perforce Helix Core version control system and Azure DevOps as the default CI/CD solution.

Image Credits: Microsoft

Microsoft argues that a system like this will make life easier for distributed game development teams. It not only eliminates the need for local specialty hardware but also allows teams to work from a centralized server.

In addition to the new virtual machine, Microsoft also used its GDC announcements to launch new features for its platform-agnostic Azure PlayFab service, including new real-time notifications and a new PlayFab Lobby Service to manage multiplayer sessions, as well as a new service for integrating user-generated content into games, which the company unsurprisingly dubbed PlayFab User Generated Content.

Talking about names, ID@Azure may sound like an enterprise-grade identity management system, but it’s the company’s program to “accelerate your game development in the cloud” and it’s coming out of beta today. It’s a free program that can give game developers access to a free PlayFab plan, for example, as well as additional support and access to tools.