Earlier this year, Windows Phone experienced an extended Xbox game release drought that actually began at the end of 2012. As the weeks stretched on, we became increasingly worried about the future of Xbox games on Windows Phone. The severity of the drought prompted me to write our seven-part “How Microsoft can save Xbox games for Windows Phone” series, which all Windows Phone gamers still need to read.
In February, Skulls of the Shogun basically broke the drought, though the following week there was no new release. But since then, we’ve seen a steady release of Xbox games for Windows Phone 7 and 8 from major publishers like Gameloft, Rovio, and Ubisoft. It looked like the days of drought were behind us.
Then last week we got no new Xbox release. It stung, but maybe this week would be different. Well, as far as we can tell, there is no new Xbox game this week either. Could this be the start of a new drought?
Avid gamers have probably noticed that we haven’t had advance notice of an Xbox Windows Phone game in a couple of months. Remember, we usually get that information from Microsoft’s PR team. But the information dried up and nobody could tell us why. The person who supplied release data to our PR contact simply stopped doing so without explanation.
Now, we had semi-optimistically attributed the release data drop-off as being due to Microsoft’s focusing all of its Xbox Windows Phone game resources on E3 and the Xbox One reveal. But that doesn’t really make sense, because it’s not like it takes a lot of energy for the Xbox Windows Phone portfolio manager to send a simple email to the PR team. Nor was Windows Phone even present at E3 beyond Halo: Spartan Assault, so the Xbox Windows Phone staff couldn’t have been tied up with E3 preparations.
No, the real cause of the lack of Xbox Windows Phone communications seems to be the same reason for the lack of releases this week, last week, and in recent times past. Microsoft just isn’t dedicating resources to Xbox Windows Phone, whether it’s acquiring new games at an adequate rate or promoting what few games they do have coming up.
They can pay rooms full of people who know nothing about videogames to come up with universally reviled DRM policies for the Xbox One and then send the most mixed and limp messages about the One and its policies as possible… But Microsoft doesn’t want to find and fund Xbox Windows Phone games or promote those games at the levels they did in 2010 and 2011. They just don’t.
Maybe I’m conflating things a bit by bringing the recent Xbox One screw-ups into the mix. And Microsoft wisely reversed their DRM policies in time to put the upcoming console on more even ground with Playstation 4 when it launches later this year. The Xbox One team and Xbox Windows Phone team are separate and very different, after all. One key difference being that we still have visible proof that the Xbox One team actually exists.
Next time’s the charm?
Definitely not coming next week. Next year though!
Don’t let my doldrums get you down, guys. There could very well be a new Xbox Windows Phone game next week. Let’s hope so, because Xbox games are important to the success of Windows Phone. Porting Xbox games to iOS and Android (as with the recently announced mobile Age of Empires), not so important or helpful for gamers in our camp.
Top photo courtesy of KPBS.org.