World Series of Poker: Full House Pro XBLA

We dished out praises like crazy to the original Full House Poker game for Windows Phone. It was the first Windows Phone 7 game to have proper avatar support and is still the only one, really. A picture of the user’s avatar on their stats screen like AlphaJax and Wordament have doesn’t really count; users want to play games as their avatars.

Full House Poker also synced up with the XBLA version in a meaningful way, sharing all experience and money earned or lost between the two games. Check out our review for more details. It really made true on the promise of Xbox 360 and Windows Phone connectivity that we all once believed and would still like to believe in.

Sadly, the first Full House Poker currently occupies the Windows Phone 8 incompatibility list. And the XBLA game itself (I would argue) ended up a disappointment due to slow animations and poor net code. Still, Microsoft has just announced a free-to-play Full House Poker sequel called World Series of Poker: Full House Pro. Now here’s the bad news: WSOP will be coming to Xbox 360 and Windows 8/RT only. Notice a pattern here?

Return to the poker table

Before we talk about what the shun means, let’s look at the game itself. Like the first Full House Poker, WSOP: Full House Pro allows players to play as their Xbox Live avatars in single-player and online multiplayer poker games. The presentation has received a huge facelift as it now carries the World Series of Poker branding and two authentic announcers.

The biggest change however is the move to a free-to-play structure (the first XBLA game costs 800 MS Points/$10). Without the barrier of buying the game, a huge number of people will give Full House Pro a try. (Note that the Xbox 360 version's online multiplayer still requires an Xbox Live Gold membership, just like Happy Wars.) How long they stay remains to be seen, because players only get a fixed number of free chips every day. Run out and more can be purchased for actual money.

World Series of Poker: Full House Pro XBLA

That’s not an entirely bad thing, because the fixed amount of daily chips could actually do wonders against cheating. In many poker games like the first Full House Poker, cheaters like to spoil everything by going “All in” repeatedly instead of playing strategically. That goes against the spirit of the game and kills the enjoyment for anyone playing against them. Full House Pro’s daily chip allowance will inspire most players to think more carefully about going all in. Anyone who doesn’t will run out of chips before and lose their ability to troll (for free) for the remainder of the day.

Windows Phone not invited

Full House Poker

WSOP: Full House Pro sounds like great fun for Xbox 360 and Windows 8/RT users. But the absence of a Windows Phone port is telling. Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8 are quite similar, making the porting of games between the two platforms a snap. If Microsoft wanted to make WSOP a full three-screen experience, they could do so with minimal costs. Windows Phone 8 certainly needs the games.

How cool would it be to not only have an online poker game for Windows Phone with Xbox support, but one that ties in with your Xbox 360 and PC/tablet as well? Because this game is freemium, it would circumvent the issue of paying for the same game multiple times that Skulls of the Shogun faces. You’d have to stick your fingers awfully deep into your ears to interpret the decision not to release WSOP: Full House Pro on Windows Phone as anything but a vote of no confidence in Xbox games for Windows Phone.

If you think this game should be released on Windows Phone as well, let Microsoft know! As we suggested in yesterday’s article about the lack of Xbox games for Windows Phone, there are several ways to register your concerns with Microsoft. Vote for this suggestion at User Voice, comment in this Xbox forums thread, and by tweet @Xbox, @XboxSupport, @WindowsPhone, and any other public faces at Microsoft. Also, you can reach the developer Pipeworks at @pipeworks, but remember that the decision to port to Windows Phone rests on Microsoft’s shoulders, not theirs.