This has been a terrible year for Xbox games on Windows Phone. Microsoft has all but dropped support for the Xbox branding on phones, developers have stopped releasing Xbox games en masse, and new Xbox games are basically a rare occurrence nowadays. Don’t you wish the Windows Phone team cared a lick about gamers?
The latest sign of the inevitable demise of Xbox on Windows Phone comes with last week’s Tetris Blitz update. The game launched in a bug-ridden state (see our review). But to Electronic Arts’ credit, the publisher has released a steady stream of updates to improve its product. The latest update certainly packs some improvements, but it sort of looks like it removes Tetris Blitz’s Xbox branding. Could this be the end of EA’s Xbox support or just a snafu?
Update: EA's official response after the break!
Tetris Blitz version 1.4 release notes
- New Tournaments Mode – Compete against other players in limited-time events, each with its own unique rules and leaderboards
- Player Profiles and Avatars – Create your own Tournament identity
- Updated News Section – Stay informed of new Tournaments and challenges
- Holiday Content – Get festive this holiday season with surprise content
This update basically catches the Windows Phone 8 game up with the iOS version, which received the update on November 26.
This update totally revamps the game’s menu system. Several functions like the Bonus Blitz, Settings, and Achievements are tucked away under the orange button with three lines at the top-left corner of the screen. Actual game types are selected by swiping left or right in the main window below. The Pro Scoring Strategies button at the bottom of the menu leads to several YouTube strategy videos.
The update adds a couple of new powerups that players can buy: Blitz’n and Bulldozer. It also fixes the mismatched prices on the Power of the Week. Or maybe they fixed that in the previous update; I forget.
I haven’t managed to discover the holiday content yet. Maybe it’s hidden away in Tournament mode or something?
As for the new Tournament mode, unfortunately it doesn’t unlock until the player reaches level 11 (I’m at 8). There newly redesigned menu system has a button labelled “UNLOCK Level 11” right at the top of the screen. Presumably this is intended to allow players to unlock Tournament Mode straight away by making an In-App Purchase. However, the button doesn’t do anything.
We do know that Tournaments are timed worldwide competitions. The top three participants win truckloads of coins. That could never be me because unfortunately, I’m too slow to excel at Tetris Blitz.
Live no more?
The reason many are fearing the game has dropped Xbox support: the Xbox banner has disappeared from its tile on the Windows Phone Store! Indeed that is highly unusual; I can’t think of another game to have done so in this manner. See, Xbox has never been patched out of a Windows Phone game – the existing Xbox version usually gets delisted while a new non-Xbox version appears on the Store.
Tetris Blitz version 1.4 is definitely not a separate version, and it still appears under the Xbox section of the Games hub. The Store page still lists Xbox Live in the description. What’s more, the Achievements continue to appear under the in-game Achievements menu under the new “Xbox” header. The Achievements menu also lists Challenges and non-Xbox Achievements as well now.
To my eyes, it looks like Tetris Blitz still has the same Xbox Achievements it always had – plus some extra ones that don’t award GamerScore. And a couple of readers have reported that they earned genuine Xbox Achievements after the update. If my optical receptors and those guys are to be believed, Tetris Blitz has not dropped the ‘box.
My best guess is that the removal of the Xbox banner from the game’s Store tile is simply in error. We contacted EA but haven’t received a response yet. If they provide an official explanation, we’ll update and let you know.
- Tetris Blitz – Windows Phone 8 – 42 MB – Free – Store Link
Electronic Arts has issued a statement on this issue:
"We’re not removing XBOX Live functionality from this title; rather, our distribution team accidentally uploaded the wrong icon and is in the process of changing it, but the cert process takes a couple of weeks. That said, we’re definitely working on correcting the issue, and in the meantime, Xbox Live functionality should be working as normal."