(Pocket-lint) - Xbox boss Phil Spencer has made a bold statement in the build up to the next big console war: PlayStation isn't its biggest competitor anymore.

Neither is Nintendo.

Instead, he believes that cloud services from Amazon and Google will provide the biggest threats going forward: "When you talk about Nintendo and Sony, we have a ton of respect for them, but we see Amazon and Google as the main competitors," he told Protocol.

"That’s not to disrespect Nintendo and Sony, but the traditional gaming companies are somewhat out of position. I guess they could try to re-create Azure, but we’ve invested tens of billions of dollars in cloud over the years."

Spencer clearly believes that cloud gaming or cloud interaction with traditional games will lie at the heart of the games industry in future, even when it comes to the Xbox Series X or other hardware devices released by Microsoft. And, Sony Computer Interactive is at a disadvantage when it comes to cloud infrastructure. Indeed, last year SIE signed a deal with Microsoft to use its Azure cloud network for future game services.

The ball is very much, therefore, in the court of the firm who owns the data centres, rather than the one that pays to use them.

And he's not talking about the current generation of cloud gaming, such as Stadia, but what might follow: "I don’t want to be in a fight over format wars with those guys while Amazon and Google are focusing on how to get gaming to seven billion people around the world," he added.

So, while the Xbox Series X vs PS5 battles are about to start, Spencer is clearly looking much further down the road than that.

Writing by Rik Henderson.