Microsoft Azure is an essential part of Titanfall, also handling the game's AI
The fact that Titanfall relies heavily on Microsoft's Azure cloud servers is no secret, and the extent of their importance has been recently shown by the reported canceling of game pre-orders in South Africa and the troubles experienced by Australian players during the beta test, after which an official comment teased "good news" are coming, without breaking the mystery.The first-person shooter game is exclusively geared towards online multiplayer, and as such a stable and powerful network connection is one of its key requirements, apart from the expected high end hardware to run it on.
Developer Respawn Entertainment has recently shed some light on just how critical cloud computing services are for the game, explaining their choice to make use of Microsoft's Azure infrastructure to power such significant elements of Titanfall.
Until now, the common knowledge was that Titanfall used the cloud servers to host dedicated matches, in order to remove the performance and balance issues that would arise from gamers playing the role of hosts, but an Engadget interview with Respawn's John Shiring informs that the game relies on cloud computing for much more than just hosting.
Apparently, Microsoft's service also serves in powering the game's AI, controlling both bots as well as Titans left on automated pilot. Shiring states that a lot of publishers were initially scared of the prospect of the game relying to such a great extent on cloud servers.
The reliance on cloud servers was a decision made in order to free up local processing power and allow the Xbox 360, Xbox One and PC platforms to achieve better performance and more detailed graphics, to be able to run the game at a stable and smooth frame rate.
Some of the concerns were legitimate of course, because although Microsoft's service is widespread and robust, not all areas of the world possess a Microsoft Azure data center, as was the case of South Africa, impeding the launch of Titanfall until a solution can be found.
Other concerns still exist, as Xbox' Phil Spencer has recently stated that Titanfall will be a massive test of both the Xbox One platform and Microsoft's cloud computing power, and Shiring revealed that they were still trying to figure out how many people will be playing when the game launches and how many resources need to be dedicated specifically to making sure that enough servers are ready for the job at hand.
This could certainly become a trend, and more and more developers will come pounding on the Redmond company's door once it turns out that the cloud offers much more computing power than the Xbox 360 and even the Xbox One could ever offer, making increasingly complex features more readily available in future developments and potentially altering the way games are made.
Titanfall comes out on Xbox One and PC today in North America, with worldwide launches to follow over the next days, on March 13 in Europe and Australia and March 14 in the UK and New Zealand. The Xbox 360 version will be released a little later on, on March 25 in North America and on March 28 in Europe.