In the wake of Nintendo's hybrid Switch console, gaming on the go has again risen to the fore. There are exciting possibilities ahead for Microsoft in this area. With Windows 10 on ARM, future mobile devices might not just be capable of running apps, but even thousands of less-intensive Win32 games via Steam. Historically, Windows for mobile devices has missed out on hundreds of the latest games and crazes, most notoriously including Clash of Clans and Pokémon Go.
Getting Steam onto full Windows 10 ARM devices might go some way towards fixing the issue, but then, we'd have the issue of inputs. Touch won't lend itself well to games designed for keyboards, mice, and controllers. Thankfully, there are companies out there who could step in to fix things. Say hi to Utorcase.
The Utorcase itself
You can order the Utorcase from its website or via the 3D printing website Shapeways for virtually any phone, and any major controller. The cases are 3D printed based on the specifications you enter, and are simple to install.
As you can see from the pictures, the Utorcase is essentially a single solid frame which wraps around your controller, while providing a place to mount your phone. As a result of the 3D printing process, no doubt, the Utorcase has a very rough texture which made short work of my guitar-induced calluses.
At first glance, I thought the Utorcase looked incredibly fragile and brittle, but it's seriously sturdy. This might be some of the most resilient plastic I've ever seen for this size, and no matter how far I tried to bend it, it simply wouldn't snap. The strength of the plastic is a double-edged sword, however, as it was slightly too small to fit the standard Xbox One controller, and no amount of bending would help matters.
Removing the battery housing on the Xbox controller allowed it to snap into place. I suspect Utorcase doesn't get too many orders for this particular configuration due to the lack of games that actually support both Lumia phones and the Xbox One controller. However, I'm sure if this measurement mishap occurred to a regular customer, the company would be more than happy to replace it with revised measurements.
The Utorcase comfortably holds the Lumia 950 XL, curling around its edges with far more ease than that of the Xbox controller itself. I was able to shake the Lumia 950 XL upside down in the Utorcase housing, and it remained firmly locked in place.
As solid as this product is, it's still useless for Windows 10 Mobile users, due to the aforementioned lack of software support.
Xbox gaming on the go?
We've talked to Microsoft before about supporting Windows 10 Mobile gaming, and the company always seems shy about the prospect. You can use the Xbox Dev Companion and the Xbox One S controller's Bluetooth stack to stream the Xbox One dashboard, but when you fire up a game, it simply stops working. So far, Xbox to Windows 10 game streaming is firmly the realm of PCs and even cheap tablets running full Windows, but with the full OS coming to ARM devices, it uncovers some exciting possibilities.
When I posted a photograph of me running Overwatch using this Utorcase configuration on reddit, it accumulated over 10,000 upvotes, putting the thread onto the front page. I'm by no means suggesting that it's empirical evidence for the probable mainstream adoption of Xbox One streaming on mobile devices, but at least it shows there's some interest.
Xbox Play Anywhere, by definition, is about allowing gamers to play wherever they are. Microsoft is well aware that gamers are increasingly moving to mobile, yet they are suspiciously absent in that space.
When I posted a photograph of me running Overwatch using the Utorcase on reddit, it accumulated over 10,000 upvotes.
There are a handful of decent mobile games from Microsoft Studios, of course, including Age of Empires Castle Siege and Halo Spartan Strike, but it pales in comparison to EA, Square Enix, and even Nintendo's recent efforts across iOS, Android, and even Windows.
You have to wonder if Microsoft is simply biding its time for the eventuality of full Windows 10 on ARM, where thousands of low-intensity Win32 games will suddenly be playable on a device that could look like these Surface Phone patents. The fact Microsoft was keen to demonstrate World of Tanks Blitz on its full Windows 10 on ARM devices should at least be some indication that Microsoft sees gaming as a pillar of interest when it comes to selling these types of devices.
It's easy to envision a future where appropriate UWP games scale not only between PC and Xbox, but even to devices running Windows 10 for ARM on future Snapdragon processors.
We've yet to see a game that utilizes UWP to run across Windows 10 PCs, tablets, phones, and Xbox in this way, despite the functionality being present. It's strangely odd that Microsoft themselves have yet to lead the charge, but perhaps not really, given W10M's market share.
Enabling Xbox One to Windows 10 Mobile game streaming using the Xbox One S with Bluetooth should be a fairly trivial feat, but there's every chance the company is simply waiting for the reality of full Windows 10 on ARM before moving forward in this space.
Hopefully, then, Microsoft will also consider to include mobile in their "Play Anywhere" efforts.
Would you use Xbox One streaming to Windows 10 Mobile using something like the Utorcase? Let us know in the comments!