Microsoft developing 'Switchboard' for WP7 multiplayer gaming

Real-time multiplayer gameplay on mobile devices has long been a feature many gamers would like to have on the move (we have some form of multiplayer gameplay though - Haypi Kingdom (opens in new tab) being an example), but with constant connection dips (while on the move) and data limitations in place, plus many more factors, it's never been fully implemented.

Victor Bahl, director of the Mobile Computing Research Center at Microsoft Research, explains the problem:

"Multiplayer gaming on smartphones is a very challenging technical problem, Gamers move around, the wireless channel is hostile, the bandwidth you need is not always there, disconnections can happen, and smartphones are energy-constrained. If you just take a game and put it on a smartphone, it is not going to work."

Fear not, all is not lost. The talented team at Microsoft Research has been hard at work on 'Switchboard' - a potential answer to most (if not all) problems with multiplayer smartphone gaming in its current form.

 "There are techniques for multiplayer games to handle ‘jitter’—occasional spikes in network delay. When those techniques react to jitter, you may see a player or object jump from one spot to another. Such ‘glitches in the matrix’ become problematic if they happen frequently. A major challenge in this work is to predict what a player’s latency will look like for the foreseeable duration of a game and minimize such glitches.""Switchboard finds suitable game candidates by “pinging” their phones to estimate latency: the time needed to move a packet of data. Latency is important to gaming because a long lag time—in the hundreds of milliseconds—to move data can affect game play”, notes Gantenbein."

While it may not provide seamless play for WP7 users, this is a step in the right direction and shows Microsoft are attempting to address obvious limitations/problems. Let's see how this plays out, but for now hopes should remain relatively high for some degree of multiplayer action potentially being possible in the future with Xbox Live.

Source: Microsoft Research (opens in new tab), via: Windows7news

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds is Senior Editor of PC hardware at Windows Central, covering everything related to PC components and NAS. He's been involved in technology for more than a decade and knows a thing or two about the magic inside a PC chassis. You can follow him over on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • I remember tweeting you guys a few hours about this exact topic. Thanks for the article!
  • I am a big fan of the guys at Microsoft Research, coming up with some cool stuff. Have you seen Street Slide? check it out on Bing maps or
  • Mobile multiplayer games sounds fun but I think a couple of options would be nice. A version for being out and about and one for being at home or connected to dedicated wireless.I'd love to see games where the phone acts as an alternate/additional interface into a game too. Say, an inventory of all your collected items. Instead of switching screens in game, you choose from your inventory displayed on your phone. I'm getting way ahead of myself. Baby steps. :)
  • The best part is when this becomes insanely popular on multiple platforms and no one gives Microsoft credit...
  • Ahhh yes as it always happens
  • I know I'm going to get downranked for this buttt... Apple kinda already does something like this with Airplay mirroring in iOS5 I used it for some multiplayer gaming and it worked excellent. Of course its not hing like Xbox tho.
  • i dont see how * LAG* is a problem or bandwidthnow with the new LTE network my cell phone is better and more reliable then my FIXED internet high speed connection lolcause i work for bell i get unlimited DATA and because of that and the great speeds , i used my WIFI hot spot app on my other cell to play on Xbox live (i play black ops no problem )i dont think lag should be an excuse to NOT have multy player gaming.