Microsoft acquires Seattle startup PlayFab to bolster cloud offerings for game developers

The PlayFab team. (PlayFab Photo)

Microsoft said it has acquired Seattle gaming startup PlayFab, in a bid to strengthen its position in the more than $100 billion market.

PlayFab was started four years ago, and it gives developers a back end platform to build, launch and manage games. The trend lately in gaming is away from physical discs, and toward games that live in the cloud and are updated frequently.

“Built well, these backend systems enabled games to engage, retain, and monetize players like never before, with longevity in the top grossing charts measured in years. Built poorly, they crashed and burned on launch day,” James Gwertzman, PlayFab co-founder and CEO, wrote in a blog post about the acquisition.

PlayFab’s platform powers more than 1,200 games from companies like Disney, Rovio and Atari. Microsoft’s Kareem Choudhry wrote in a blog post that the platform makes it easier for developers to build games and not have to worry about the back end technology.

In their blog posts, the two companies didn’t dive deep into how they will integrate with each other. Microsoft said PlayFab’s “platform is a natural complement to Azure for gaming.” Gwertzman wrote that Azure’s massive global footprint will help PlayFab offer an “entirely new level of features, resources, and support.”

The acquisition of PlayFab is another example of Microsoft’s gaming push. In 2016, Microsoft acquired game streaming startup Beam and later rebranded it Mixer. New features have steadily been added to Mixer, most recently a redesigned mobile app.