As our game-playing readers have probably noticed by now, Xbox for Windows Phone isn’t truly out of drought territory just yet. There is no new Xbox release this week. We asked Microsoft whether the two free Gameloft games on Tuesday were intended to make up for the lack of release. Unfortunately, those games being offered for free resulted from a Store glitch that has since been corrected.
Microsoft couldn’t tell us whether there will be a new Xbox Windows Phone game next week, either. It’s clear that the problems facing the platform won’t go away any time soon. Let’s just hope our editorial series can inspire the powers that be to move things in a better direction… In the meantime, we've got another rumor explaining the lack of games and a hefty list of titles that Microsoft could and should be producing for Windows Phone!
Windows Phone 8 troubles
Angry Birds Star Wars feels so lonely as one of only two WP8 games released.
As you might expect, Windows Phone 8 is the current focus of new mobile Xbox development. There are still some Windows Phone 7 games coming, but a fair number of games planned for release this year won’t work on the older OS. This includes Temple Run, Fairway Solitaire, Gameloft’s lineup, and probably other unannounced titles.
Microsoft has promoted Windows Phone 8 as being easier to develop for than the previous OS thanks to its support of C++ and DirectX. We also know that multiplatform game engines will eventually be available for Windows Phone 8 development. However, at this moment in time, there seem to be some growing pains keeping Xbox games for the new mobile OS from release. Yeah, two Angry Birds games made it to release, but those very simple games were in the works for some time before Windows Phone 8 even launched.
We can’t get more specific, but multiple developers have given us hints that actually getting an Xbox Windows Phone 8 game past certification is proving challenging. Those whispers tie in with my previous editorial about the certification process being a major impediment to the platform receiving new games. On iOS and Android, developers can get games to market very quickly after development wraps. On Windows Phone (7 or 8), it takes months of bouncing builds back and forth between the certification team. That proves costly for developers and keeps new games from reaching users in a timely fashion.
What should have been
I hear strategy games like Halo Wars work pretty well on phones.
Alright, so the new OS and existing certification hurdles are keeping some games from launching expediently. Still, Microsoft isn’t accepting sufficient Xbox Windows Phone game submissions or spearheading new games like it should be.
We’ll tackle this subject in far greater detail in next week’s How to save Xbox games for Windows Phone editorial, but let’s take a cursory glance now. Here are some games that could have been released this week, if only Microsoft had chosen to actually make them. I’m not saying these titles were pitched, but they’re properties that Microsoft owns the publishing rights to and has the money to develop mobile versions of – if only they felt like it. Most of these games would port easily to Windows Phone, while some would likely need a fair amount of reworking.
- Halo (first-person shooter)
- Halo Wars
- Gears of War
- Forza (This needn't be a full sim. The Forza brand has already branched out with Forza Horizon.)
- Project Gotham Racing
- Fable (Sure, we have Fable Coin Golf on WP7 and it might eventually work on WP8. Now let's make a real portable action-RPG version!)
- Minecraft (There's already an iOS version!)
- A World of Keflings
- Age of Empires
- Crimson Alliance
- Crimson Skies
- Dust: An Elysian Tale
- The Gunstringer
- Iron Brigade
- Joy Ride Turbo
- Microsoft Flight Simulator
- Microsoft Solitaire Collection
- Perfect Dark
- Shadow Complex
- Shao-Lin's Road (Remember, this one is already complete and Microsoft stubbornly refuses to release it.)
- South Park Let's Go Tower Defense Play!
- Taptiles (I suspect this one is secretly in development.)
- The Maw
- Time Pilot (Same deal as Shao-Lin's Road.)
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War
- Viva Piñata
- WSOP: Full House Pro (This one isn’t out on other platforms yet, but it deserves mention again.)
- Zoo Tycoon
Can you imagine if even half of those titles made their way to Xbox Windows Phone? We'd be in gaming heaven! Did we miss any Microsoft-published games that you think would be great on phones, loyal readers?
Photo courtesy of Crossroads of Sorcery