How EY & Microsoft Achieved Fair Play in Gaming

The two organizations teamed up to build a blockchain network for Xbox rights & royalties processing. Here’s why…

Xbox Series X

erious ‘cool mum’ points — as expected, that’s what I earned when my kids and their gaming pals discovered that EY has been partnering with tech behemoth Microsoft on a game-changing blockchain-based solution for their favourite console, Xbox.

The latest link in a long and sturdy…erm…chain of EY blockchain activity (sorry, I just couldn’t resist), the solution is pretty simple — even if it did take more than a little explaining to my teens.

The transparent blockchain network essentially means Xbox can capture gaming rights and royalties on its platform, fully automating a process formerly done through a slow, expensive, and complex legacy system — one that was causing a huge headache to Xbox gaming partners and content creators.

In the past, these individuals were forced to wait for up to 45 days for info on their earnings, but now they have access to daily calculations. And these calculations are made accurately in real time using smart contracts that encode their IP rights.

EY worked closely with Microsoft, joining capabilities and resources to develop the first iteration of this groundbreaking transformation, which only covered sales reporting. And they recently went on to facilitate its expansion into a fully fledged royalties accounting system.

This second iteration of the solution improves the user experience for a vast web of people, especially smaller companies or freelancers with fewer resources. It gives them peace of mind through not only increased visibility into securing and managing royalty processing and distribution, but also a user-centric interface.

But as I say, EY is no stranger to blockchain. As a professional services firm, we were brought on board thanks to our broad experience in helping similar business-to-business enterprise clients (that is, those like Xbox with cash flow distributions involving contracts and multiple parties) to develop comparable solutions, automating and bringing transparency into contract-related calculations and processing.

One such solution is Baseline Protocol, a package of public domain blockchain tools allowing enterprises to build and deploy procurement and other business processes securely and privately on the public Ethereum blockchain. EY launched this in 2020 in cooperation with Microsoft and ConsenSys.

Popular Xbox game, Call of Duty

Before I was appointed as EY’s Technology & Innovation Leader UK & Ireland, I ran the firm’s wavespace centres in EMEIA, which is often where such innovations are born. Giving clients the space and freedom to imagine a tech-enabled future, these centres bring a variety of innovative technologies to life, and blockchain is just one of them — alongside augmented reality, geo-fencing, Internet of Things, and artificial intelligence.

Speaking of AI, you might be interested to know that this tech is also important to the solution in hand — it allows for faster creation of those smart contracts that I mentioned earlier.

Today is the last day of the EY Global Blockchain Summit 2021, where subject matter professionals within the firm join clients and industry experts to explore the latest developments in blockchain. After years of trials and some early failures, this tech is now helping to revolutionize many different fields in countless ways, but Paul Brody, EY Global Blockchain Leader, notes:

“The ecosystem era for blockchain is just getting started.”

And I’m pretty excited about it all. Despite some teething problems, we now know blockchain to be the right way forward for various industries, including the £94 billion video games industry — one that’s both technologically advanced and creative yet surprisingly reliant upon outdated royalties processing methods.

The success of the EY-Microsoft collaboration demonstrates that blockchain is the likely future of digitized B2B interaction, closing the door on restrictive legacy technologies and opening the door to advantages galore.

Since the collaboration began, whenever I hear my kids squabbling over the Xbox controller, I can no longer tell them to “play fair” without sparing a thought for what playing fair actually means to the people behind the tech. As consumers, we can so easily forget about those responsible for our experiences, giving little consideration to their own experiences.

I’m thrilled that Microsoft has taken this enormous leap, looking far beyond benefits to its business and customers to protect the partners and creators without whom Xbox and its wide range of games simply wouldn’t exist. I’m even more thrilled that EY was instrumental in making that leap happen.

Perhaps next time I hear my kids argue over whose turn it is, I’ll ask for one myself. I’m sure the threat of watching me trash their reputation on Call of Duty could be the game-changer to achieve fair play there!

Behavioural psychologist; AI-quisitive; EY UK&I Client Technology & Innovation Officer. Views my own & don't represent EY’s position.