Get ready for an epic fight over the future of gaming.
With an estimated 2.2 billion gamers worldwide, tech giants like Alphabet (GOOGL - Get Report) , Microsoft (MSFT - Get Report) and Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) are aggressively staking their claims in one of the fastest-growing markets out there.
The Game Developers Conference, which kicks off in next week in San Francisco, is one of the proving grounds for the various services -- from Microsoft's Game Stack to Nvidia's (NVDA - Get Report) gaming GPUs -- that companies are using to court sought-after gamers and game developers.
Game streaming is one major area of focus at this year's GDC.
On March 19, Alphabet is expected to unveil a game streaming service, codenamed Project Stream. In an October 2018 blog post, Alphabet announced a test for Project Stream, and the tech giant could officially preview its "Netflix for games" concept at GDC. Alphabet is also rumored to be building a piece of gaming hardware to go along with it, which may be a Chromecast-esque dongle, a console with a controller or something totally new. Expect a blockbuster announcement aimed at winning the hearts of online gamers.
Not to be outdone, Microsoft is also working towards its own cloud streaming service for games, dubbed XCloud. Ahead of GDC, it announced Game Stack, a development kit that bundles together various services -- including Azure, Xbox Live, App Center, PlayFab and others -- into one offering to entice developers to build for streaming. Microsoft could also reveal more about its plans for XCloud, and how it's chasing the "expansive opportunity" in game distribution that CEO Satya Nadella referred to on a recent investor call.
Nvidia, of course, will be touting its gaming-focused GPUs. Its $349 GeForce RTX 2060 card, which Nvidia released in January, is likely to be a focus at the event as the chipmaker works to boost sales among the game development crowd.
Amazon (AMZN - Get Report) , Facebook (FB - Get Report) and others will also be present at GDC, promoting the possibilities for gaming on their platforms. Amazon owns Twitch, the uber-popular, game-focused live streaming site, and will also be hosting educational content on building and hosting games with Alexa, its Lumberyard game engine, AWS and more. And Facebook is boosting its presence in mobile and social gaming as well as in virtual reality.
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