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It’s no fun kicking a downed horse, but we have another bit of bad news about an Xbox game for Windows Phone. Not only did the number of games in the Xbox WP lineup fail to increase this week, it actually fell by one! That’s because Konami’s Pro Evolution Soccer 2012 (PES 2012) was delisted, seemingly permanently.

Deja vu

PES 2012 WP delisted store page

Now, anyone who has followed the Xbox WP lineup for long enough shouldn’t be too surprised at PES 2012’s delisting. The first Pro Evolution Soccer title for Windows Phone (PES 2011) got delisted on January 23, 2012 – 10 months after its debut. This seemingly happened because of PES 2012’s impending release, but that game didn’t appear until March 20, 2012, leaving Windows Phone without a PES title for two months that year.

Now PES 2012 is also gone – 20 days sooner than its delisted forbear. Anyone who purchased PES 2012 or 2011 cannot redownload those games. Tough luck if you need to switch to a new handset and still want to play your soccer game (not that you’d retain your save data anyway). Sometimes users manage to secure refunds for delisted games by chatting with Microsoft’s customer support in India; I succeeded once myself. But we don’t have a dedicated web link for this type of refund request, and individual results may vary.

Call for improvement

PES 2012 WP screenshots

This latest delisting highlights several larger problems affecting both the Windows Phone ecosystem and specifically Xbox Windows Phone games. The general issue: Windows Phone users have no way to back up their purchased games and apps, unlike iOS and Android users who can simply save them to a computer.

Microsoft could at least allow users to redownload any Windows Phone app they’ve purchased regardless of whether it’s still being sold, but they don’t. This despite the fact that Xbox 360 digital purchases can usually be redownloaded after such a removal. Once a game gets removed from the Windows Phone Store, people who paid for it can never get it again.

I hinted at the other issue earlier: save files. Even if PES 2012 hadn’t been delisted, someone who started playing the game on one phone and then switched to a new phone couldn’t resume their existing save data. Both PES 2011 and PES 2012 require the player to complete hundreds of games in order to unlock all of their Achievements. Why should anyone commit to that endeavor when their save data could be lost from any number of circumstances, and the game will simply become unavailable to download one day anyway.

More PES on the way?

The future of the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise on Windows Phone remains uncertain. Konami might just have a PES 2013 game in store for us, but they’ve made no announcement to that effect. If PES 2012 wasn’t pulled to make room for a sequel, it could have been pulled due to the WP8 crashing issues that several recent reviews mention on its Store page. That would be unusual though, as every other WP8-incompatible game we know of can still be downloaded from WP7 devices.

We’ve reached out to Microsoft and Konami about PES 2012’s delisting and will update if they issue a response.

Photo: Slice of Shanghai