What’s Next for Windows Phone and Xbox LIVE?
Microsoft is on the cusp of huge success with Windows Phone, and by extension their mobile gaming platform could be about to hit the big time.
But this depends on Microsoft getting things right, and at present there doesn’t seem to be any sign that the Windows Phone 7.5 Mango update is influencing the gaming side of things enough. Virtually every shortcoming of the original Windows Phone release has been resolved with Mango, but while there is the potential for better gaming options, this remains theoretical rather than actual.
So what does Microsoft need to do?
First of all, they need to make sure that developers of games for Windows and Xbox 360 and Xbox LIVE are offering a smaller but integrated gaming experience for Windows Phone. This is something that was hinted at when Windows Phone was first launched, but as yet we have not had the pleasure of seeing it. These games might take the shape of special missions that result in an upgrade or bonus feature in the main title, for instance.
Part of this seems as though it could still be on the cards. The September 2011 Microsoft BUILD conference revealed that Games for Windows is likely to be rebranded as part of Xbox LIVE, and that close integration would exist between this, Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8. Hopefully we won’t have to wait that long.
What Microsoft shouldn’t do, however, is issue an Xbox LIVE phone. Recently filed patents indicate that something is in the offing, with a handset featuring a slideout keyboard with interchangeable keyboards that bears a striking resemblance to the Sony Ericsson Xperia Play. Microsoft has already established its mobile gaming platform and devices, so this device seems unnecessary.
Ultimately, a declaration of intent from Microsoft with regards to Windows Phone and Xbox LIVE gaming would be appreciated by their loyal user base.
Until then, we can only speculate.