Microsoft is leveraging its Xbox LIVE gaming universe to set its mobile strategy apart from the competition. It just might work.
Microsoft is the anti-Apple in so many ways, but when it comes to promotion and press information, the company makes Rupert Murdoch look like an stuttering geezer because of the sheer volume of content that it puts out. Sometimes that can be detrimental. Expectations are always big at Microsoft. They have to be for a company of that size, but with big expectations comes great disappointment when things don't work. Remember the Kin? Wow! What an opportunity and what a disaster. Only Microsoft could go so big and then fail so badly, and not end up having half the company falling on their swords (classic reference, I have been watching a lot of Spartacus these days).
So, now we have another big set of expectations: at Gamescom 2010, in Cologne, Germany, Microsoft announced the first 50 video games that will be available for Windows Phone 7 at launch or shortly after. On top of all of that, Redmond also built on its previous announcement about Xbox LIVE integration on Windows Phone 7.
The initial launch portfolio of titles includes Xbox LIVE games from the likes of Gameloft, Konami, Namco Bandai, PopCap and THQ. We covered it here.
However, Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7 is what really interests me because, honestly, who else can do this level of integration between empires? Maybe Sony, but who knows what it is thinking about its long term ambitions in the mobile space. Is Microsoft going to be successful with its gaming push? Well, just because you have 25 million people on Xbox LIVE doesn't mean that they will all jump on connecting through Windows Phone 7.
However, once a gamer, always a gamer. Gamers are just as fanboyish as any Apple-ite. Xbox'ers are just maniacal as any iPhone hipsters, if not more so. In a death-match, I reckon a gamer would easily pulverize an iPad or iPhone lover.
And Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7 does look like an extension of the Xbox brand, and not just a Hail Mary. You can build on your community through Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7, and also take command of your stats and achievements across both platforms, console and mobile phone. It's kind of cool.
Among the features of Xbox LIVE on Windows Phone 7, according to Microsoft:
- Avatars. Connect to your Xbox LIVE profile and Avatar, or create a new one if you don't already have an Avatar or Xbox LIVE profile; take your 3-D Avatar and props with you on the phone with full closet access.
- Friends. Bring your Xbox LIVE friends with you everywhere; compare Achievements, challenge rivals to your favorite game, and even see who's online and what they're doing on their consoles, PCs or phones.
- Game access. Easily view and launch your full game library from a single location; find, try and buy new games either in the Marketplace or Games hub.
- Achievements. Earn, view and track Achievements, view Xbox LIVE leaderboards and build your Gamerscore across Xbox 360 and Windows Phone 7 - every time you play an Xbox LIVE title.
- Messaging. Communicate with all of your Xbox LIVE friends, any time you want, through Xbox LIVE messages.
- Multiplayer. Invite, connect and play against friends on other Windows Phone 7 phones or the PC with turn-based (asynchronous) multiplayer gaming.
- Spotlight. Access Xbox LIVE Spotlight feeds, including the latest game titles, breaking news from Xbox LIVE, game tips and tricks, and more.
See what I mean about being the anti-Apple. Microsoft has just thrown everything but the kitchen sink at you, and maybe that is part and parcel of the strategy here for both Microsoft: outgun the iPhone through sheer volume of of activity.
It kind of worked once, and it's hard to see how Apple can react. Steve Jobs, the man who makes the ultimate decisions, doesn't like things messy and unpredictable. He likes it all nice and clean, and neatly controlled. Tightly controlled.
Games and entertainment made the PC dominant in the home. They're definitely going to drive our phone purchases. Microsoft has games, and Google and Apple don't.
I haven't even said anything about the sheer volume of support and documentation available to Windows Phone 7 developers. And the armies of MSDN that will evangelize the heck out of the platform. It's just going to take one phone, one piece of hardware for Windows Phone 7 to really hit the mark with its gaming strategy. You get an exciting phone and you get high performance games and Microsoft looks golden.
Engadget has a preview of the Windows Phone 7 launch line-up and some nice videos. Bastards!