In August 2022, Microsoft and Unity announced a new partnership. Unity said it would use Microsoft's Azure cloud services to build and manage real-time 3D (RT3D) experiences. Microsoft said at the time that this partnership would allow Unity game developers to create games for the PC and Xbox platforms.
However, it seems that partnership is actually much more than first advertised. In a new blog post on the Microsoft Game Dev page, it states the company's Xbox Research team is using Unity's Parsec cloud-based remote desktop platform so it can handle virtual playtesting of its games with testers all over the world.
Previously, gamers went to Microsoft's Redmond, Washington offices to play test games. However, thanks in part to the Covid-19 pandemic, Xbox Research moved to a cloud-based solution to have testers try out games remotely. However, Microsoft wanted a remote solution that made it look like the game testers were playing locally at Redmond.
Unity's Parsec was the solution Xbox Research decided to use. The blog post stated:
Xbox Research didn’t see any evidence of reduced testing quality or quantity after using Parsec for remote playtesting for a year. Their reports looked as if those studies had been running in person as usual. And now that Parsec has enabled them to once again test with gamers around the world, Xbox Research can focus on scaling virtual game testing. Without the limits imposed by on-prem hardware, they’ve been able to conduct tests with up to 60 concurrent gamers on Microsoft Azure Virtual Machines (VMs).
In addition to offering near lag-free remote gaming, using Parsec for Xbox Research testing also offers a more secure system with end-to-end encryption enabled. The blog post says that developers in the Microsoft Studios lineup can set up VMs with Parsec in the Azure Marketplace in five minutes or less.