It’s never good news when a downloadable game gets delisted, regardless of platform. But a delisting is especially unfortunate for Windows Phone users, because delisted Windows Phone games can’t be redownloaded even by users who have purchased them. Nor can we back games up and restore them later. Just one of many issues we’ve lamented in the past that Microsoft still needs to fix.
Unfortunately, another couple of Xbox Windows Phone games disappeared from the Store at the start of the year: Tower Bloxx: New York and 3D Brick Breaker Revolution from publisher Digital Chocolate. Neither game was anything special – especially not 3D Brick Breaker. But again, you have to feel for people like yours truly who paid money for those titles and can now lose access to them forever.
In addition to those two vanished games, EA’s Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 has also dropped from the Store. Read on to learn about all three titles and what factors might have led to their disappearance.
Tower Bloxx: New York
This casual game launched alongside Windows Phone 7 in 2010. The Tower Bloxx series involves dropping block-shaped building floors on top of each other in order to create the tallest possible structure. Maybe that sounds a bit like the upcoming mobile Xbox game Throne Together, but Tower Bloxx is all about timing, not puzzles. Each block sways back and forth above the stack, and players just need to tap the screen to drop it at the right time.
Tower Bloxx: New York had a few things going for it: multiple game modes (including local multiplayer), a decently cute art style, and easy to learn gameplay. See our review for more details.
We’ll most remember this one for its easy Achievements. The game only had five of them, and they could be earned in four or five hours total. Not the best way to extend a game’s longevity – two modes had no Achievements at all. Still, Tower Bloxx was a staple purchase for mobile Achievement hunters.
- Tower Bloxx: New York – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 16 MB - $2.99 – Store Link (de-listed)
3D Brick Breaker Revolution
Digital Chocolate’s sole follow-up to Tower Bloxx arrived on Windows Phone 7 back in December of 2010. This one should have been an easy win; how hard is it to make a brick breaking game in the style of Arkanoid? But 3D Brick Breaker Revolution turned out pretty awful; it’s my pick for the worst Xbox Windows Phone game of 2010.
The first problem you’d notice with this one is its graphics. They are technically 3D, but extremely basic and low resolution. Simple 3D graphics can work, but only with talented artistry. 3D Brick Breaker is just ugly. It also ran at a poor frame rate on Windows Phone 7 devices, making the choice to go with polygonal graphics an even worse decision.
The game’s Store page isn’t quite honest about its looks, either. The screenshots show a portrait orientation when the Windows Phone version is played entirely in landscape mode.
As if the fugliness wasn’t bad enough, 3D Brick Breaker is also super hard. Part of that difficulty stems from poor controls. The rest is just unfair game design and unrealistic Achievement requirements. In short, nobody is missing out too much by not playing this one.
- 3D Brick Breaker Revolution – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 17 MB - $2.99 – Store Link (de-listed)
Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12
The third and final game to be pulled from the Store actually disappeared a while ago, but we’re just now mentioning it. Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 from Electronic Arts launched on Windows Phone 7 and 8 fairly recently: May 2013.
Tiger Woods 12 was part of Nokia’s deal with EA that saw over 20 Xbox games appear on Nokia devices as timed exclusives. All of those games eventually became available to general Windows Phone audiences about six months after their initial release. All except for Tiger Woods, that is. It dropped from the Store before that could happen.
Unlike the Digital Chocolate games, we don’t have to speculate about why Electronic Arts chose to remove Tiger Woods 12. In October of last year, EA decided to end its partnership with pro golfer Tiger Woods. The partnership had weathered a well-publicized infidelity scandal in 2009, but it couldn’t last forever. Future games in the long-running golf series will simply go by the PGA Tour brand rather than using a golfer’s name.
Getting back to Windows Phone, it seems that EA decided to drop Tiger Woods 12 from the platform rather than make it available to general Windows Phone audiences. A somewhat understandable move, although the game remains conspicuously available on iOS and Android. So maybe this one is a mystery after all. We’ve reached out to EA for comment and will update if they respond.
The loss of Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12 is a shame because it leaves Xbox Windows Phone gamers with only a single golfing title to play: Gameloft’s Let’s Golf 2. Tiger Woods took a more realistic approach to the sport, even allowing players to create and customize a unique golfer. Other than slightly dated 3D graphics (Windows Phone 7, after all) and mostly broken local Wi-Fi multiplayer, Tiger Woods 12 provided a solid and robust game of links.
- Tiger Woods PGA Tour 12– Windows Phone 7 or 8 - $2.99 – 225 MB – Store Link (de-listed)
Sad to say, but there is quite a precedent for Xbox Windows Phone games dropping from the Store. The first games to go were licensed titles Fast & Furious: Adrenaline from I-Play, and Star Wars Cantina (pictured above) and Star Wars: Battle for Hoth from THQ, all back in Fall 2011. Several more games would follow in 2012 and 2013.
More recently, a whopping 11 Xbox games got delisted from the Store in September of last year. These included third-party titles and even a couple of Microsoft properties like Tentacles and Beards & Beaks. The reason for the mass delisting in all but one case was In-App Purchases. Virtually every Windows Phone 7 game that supported In-App Purchases got culled, though somehow a few Miniclip titles survived. One of the Unfortunate 11 – KenKen – did not support IAPs, and neither Microsoft nor Capcom has ever explained its disappearance.
One month later, three early Xbox Windows Phone 7 titles from Gameloft suddenly dropped from the Store: Assassin’s Creed, Brain Challenge, and UNO HD. In this case, the delisting was a mistake, and all three games returned to life a short time later.
Next came Tiger Woods 12, and now Tower Bloxx: New York and the abysmal 3D Brick Breaker Revolution. The timing of the latter two games (the beginning of 2014) could provide a clue as to their disappearance. Perhaps publisher Digital Chocolate had signed an agreement with Microsoft to publish the games for a finite length of time. That could explain why they (like several other launch game makers) were allowed to self-publish Xbox games rather than being forced to use Microsoft as a publisher.
Whatever the agreement, Digital Chocolate didn’t show much commitment to the platform. Neither game was ever updated, nor did the publisher produce more games after 2010. Of course we’ve reached out to Digital Chocolate for comment, and will update if they choose to respond.