Cloudy with a chance of gaming: Microsoft buys PlayFab

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Although no details have yet been released about how the acquisition will affect the day-to-day running of PlayFab, in the official announcement on the Microsoft Blog, Kareem Choudhry, Corporate Vice President of Gaming at Microsoft, says the acquisition is part of the company's ongoing investment to bolster Microsoft Azure and create a solid, cloud-based platform for the gaming industry. The startup was valued at $22.9 million when it raised its last funding round in late 2016, according to PitchBook Data.

In the publication, Choudhry also described PlayFab's technology as a "natural complement" to Azure, Microsoft's cloud service.

To bolster its efforts in this space, the Redmond giant has now acquired PlayFab, a "backend platform for live games".

"Games were rapidly shifting from packaged goods, sold in boxes, to "always on" digital services, requiring sophisticated server-based infrastructure to host and operate", said Gwertzman. "PlayFab's backend services reduce the barriers to launch for game developers, offering both large and small studios cost-effective development solutions that scale with their games and help them engage, retain and monetize players". Built poorly, they crashed and burned on launch day.

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In essence, PlayFab provides the behind the scenes aspect of so-called live games, simplifying the process of creating scalable, games-as-a-service products, by integrating into PC, console or mobile games.

PlayFab technology is being used by entertainment companies like Disney, NBC Universal, Wizards of the Coast, Nickelodeon, Bandai Namco, Rovio and Capcom. Microsoft also has a major stake in the games industry itself not only with Xbox, but also with Windows, which is the most popular operating system for desktop games.

"We're mobilising to pursue our extensive opportunity in a 100-plus-billion gaming market", Nadella said at Microsoft's annual shareholders meeting in November.

PlayFab has served 700 million gamers worldwide and is now powering more than 1,200 games, including games from Disney, Rovio, and Atari. Unlike many online publications, we don't have a paywall or run banner advertising, because we want to keep our journalism open, without influence or the need to chase traffic.

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