Post at Xbox Wire on free Azure...http://news.xbox.com/2013/10/xbox-one-cloud
quick excerpts (see link for full text):
Hi! My name is John Bruno – I am a Lead Program Manager from the Xbox Live team.
Well, for starters let’s talk about what the Xbox Live cloud is all about. Simply stated, it’s about massive numbers of high-powered servers running in Microsoft datacenters all over the world – all performing various computing workloads. At Microsoft, running hundreds of thousands of servers that power experiences like Bing, Skype, or Xbox Live is in our DNA.
So, why did we build Xbox Live Compute? When we were planning the next generation of Xbox Live, we spent a lot of time talking with game creators about ways to make games better. We realized that there was an incredible opportunity to bring together the resources and global scale of Windows Azure, with the game services of Xbox Live to build a cloud computing platform that was uniquely focused on gaming and game creators. Our intent was to enable developers to take advantage of server resources in their games without having to deal with the challenges that come with building, managing and running servers at scale. So, we chose to provide cloud features that allow the game creators to push the limits of their gameplay experiences and apply the bulk of their investments to game creation, rather than server and operational resources. In fact, we even give them the cloud computing power for FREE so they can more easily transition to building games on Xbox One for the cloud.Higher fidelity game experiences
– As I mentioned before, cloud compute can enable developers to offload computations for all sorts of environmental elements. In a typical game development scenario, the game creator needs to balance resource allocation across each area – world management, rendering, controls, networking, lighting, physics, AI, as well as networking and multiplayer. Balancing the local computing resources for all of these elements often results in developers making tradeoffs that result in more focus on core gameplay, and less on environments, NPC and other elements of world fidelity. However, when cloud compute is available to support the various computationally-intensive elements of the game, these kinds of tradeoffs become much easier for developers to make. Games can afford to provide higher fidelity worlds and deeply intelligent NPC AI all at the same time. These experiences could only be accomplished by leveraging the resources of servers.Improved multiplayer game experiences
– This is perhaps the most obvious example of what is possible with Xbox Live Compute – dedicated servers! If you have played a lot of multiplayer games, you know that playing on dedicated game servers has advantages over peer-to-peer gameplay. With server-based multiplayer gaming, not only can more players play the game (think hundreds of players simultaneously), the gameplay will be much more reliable for the players. No more host migration interruptions, suboptimal experiences for the host, home network NAT constraints, or player cheating! Additionally, Xbox Live Compute can be utilized to persist game state so that your squad can live to fight another day without losing any progress. A great example of a game that is using Xbox Live Compute for their dedicated server multiplayer experience is “Titanfall.”Adaptive & evolving game play
– Imagine the game you play every day improving each time you log in. Imagine joining a match in your favorite first person shooter to find new maps and game modes even though you never downloaded a game update. Imagine playing with your friend even when he/she is not online. When games are powered by Xbox Live Compute, they can be dynamically updated, tuned, changed, and improved continuously. Games will evolve and live on for greater periods of time, continually providing fresh content and new experiences. The flagship example of this application of cloud computing can be found with “Forza Motorsports 5, “and its Drivatar system.On-demand compute improves game availability
– With all of the potentially interesting things that can be accomplished with Xbox Live Compute, one of the most important things is that the resources (e.g. servers) are available when gamers need it most. It is the geographic availability of this service, and its elastic scalability that enables gamers to connect to an available server and play without experiencing busy or unavailable servers. This ensures that games meet the changing demands of their player communities for compute, and gamers experience optimal connectivity based upon their geographic location. Additionally, it means that game creators can be assured that the server capacity they need, in the appropriate geographies, will be there when they need it.