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E3 2013: Microsoft talks Windows Phone gaming, SmartGlass, and Xbox Music

Yesterday at E3 2013 we managed to squeeze in an interview with Peter Orullian, Group Product Manager at Microsoft. Peter is a ridiculously accomplished individual. He writes books, sings opera, and somehow finds time to work with Windows Phone, SmartGlass, and Xbox Music. Leave some lifetime Achievements for the rest of us, big guy!

Anyway, I sat down on camera with him to discuss his contributions to Windows Phone and SmartGlass, plus the Xbox One and his favorite games of the show. Windows Phone Central’s Daniel Rubino and “Serious” Sam Sabri also pitched in on the interview questions. Head past the break for the video interview and a brief summary!

Windows Phone

It’s always interesting to directly hear how the different people within Microsoft view the state of gaming on Windows Phone. Peter rightly points out that Windows Phone games continue to flow faster than ever before, especially thanks to the massive OS changes and improved hardware of Windows Phone 8. We’d all like to see more games and titles that release on the same day and date as their iOS counterparts, but nobody can deny that the gaming situation has improved drastically this year.

The only way to inspire change is by asking tough questions, and so I made sure to grill Peter about how the Xbox certification process slows down game updates and keeps many Windows Phone games from having the same content and features as the same iOS games. You’ll have to watch the video for his reply.

We made more ground on the subject of independent volume control. Windows Phone is the only mobile OS that doesn’t allow users to control ringer volume and game and ap volume independently of each other. As I explained to Peter, this often leads to users turning down the volume during gaming sessions, forgetting to turn the volume back up, and then missing calls. Peter gave us an optimistic reply – maybe we’ll see independent volume control in the future after all!


Microsoft made a big deal about Xbox One SmartGlass features during Monday’s Media Briefing, and for good reason. Peter informed us that the Xbox One was actually designed with SmartGlass compatibility in mind. As a result, said integration will be deeper and much more common in Xbox One games than ever before.

Two examples are Project Spark and Dead Rising 3. Project Spark allows users to build their own custom games, edit environments, customize AI, and lots more; all that can be done directly on your Windows Phone or tablet. We’ll have a more in-depth look at this highly unusual game soon.

Dead Rising 3’s combination of controller-based gameplay with creative SmartGlass features impresses just as much, if not more. The actual game is played on a controller as the protagonist navigates an open world filled with hordes of zombies. If players activate their SmartGlass phone or tablet app while playing, they’ll see the actual character on-screen using his phone. The game sends text alerts via the SmartGlass app that give you hints about where to go and what to do. It’s quite a meta combination. And of course, SmartGlass users can perform special in-game actions like calling in airstrikes in order to thin the zombie herds. These features are compelling enough that you’ll actually want to launch SmartGlass while playing.

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!

  • I really want an X1 but the only thing holding me back is the £429 price. Grrr I really thought Microsoft was going to go for the kill against Sony and offer the X1 at a loss. I was hoping for £349 with 3 months live and a game.
  • I'd be willing to bet they sign a deal to offer the X1 at a subsidized price. Probably had to let their traditional retailers get their cut first.
  • Nice. Just hope that this time smartglass and other things will work in Romania also
  • Rumors of Microsoft partnering with Sky to subsidize the console
  • Who says they are not already offering it at a loss? Sony is just offering the PS4 at a much larger loss.
  • ^This
    A new Kinect sensor that actually works this times, is not cheap. MS is definetly selling this thing at a loss. But including it in the box means developers will actually give 2 f**** about it this time.
  • Unlike the eyetoy thing which is not included.  They made a huge mistake there just to make it cheaper which would cost them in the long run. 
  • I think the PS4 and the Eye will fall into the same pitfal that the Kinect v1 did. It wasn't pushed hard enough so developers did not take it seriously, Sure some fun and kid friendly games came from it, but no real forward momentum was created. Sony has essentially done the same thing, made a peripheral that people will not use and will not be developed for on a large scale. I'd venture to say that there will soon be a PS4 bundle with the Eye included.
  • Maybe they will have another subscription to buy your Xbox again
  • You get what you pay for.
  • I keep hearing rumors about them throwing 1 year of XBL Gold in the box with the launch XB1s. That would make the price gap less glaring, hope it's not just people blowing smoke...
  • Have these rumours come from any trusted or verifiable sources? or just from commenters on articles? 
  • This is coming from game journos/bloggers saying they heard the rumors around E3. Again, just rumors and no official statement from MS.
  • Hmm , well I guess we will see what happens between now and November. Lots can change.
  • Maybe they'll sell it with an Xbox Live contract, like they've done with the 360.
  • Question isn't the x1, and ps4 the same price? Only Xbox includes Kinect and ps4 doesn't include PS eye. Correct? Also quick question, if I wanted to buy a used disc game say.. 2 yrs after x1 releases it, how can I do that?
  • I actually think that the price for the XB1 was a steal if you think about all the technology that went into this thing. It should cost as much as a gaming PC or more, which would easily be above $1000.
  • Yes and no. Compare the number of Xboxs there will be, to the number of high end Gaming PCs. When you are ordering identical components for millions of units you are going to get a price break no matter how advanced the part is. They could be offering this at a loss, but theres no ways it's worth close to $1000.
  • Wrong sManowar.
    If anything, these new consoles are essentially entry-level gaming PCs.
  • The $499 price tag is a loss for MS. It's worth double, maybe triple the cost because of its relatively small market: Considering the cost of development, engineering, testing, services, and marketing, $499 is a relative steal. Most consumers have no clue what some of the high tech toys they enjoy, like the X1 and smartphones really cost. A $99 "hero" smartphone actually costs between ~$560-$750. But on a 2-yr contract, it will end up costing you ~$2200++.
  • Asking the right questions, very good job Paul. Enjoy your stay and keep pushing man!
  • Thanks man! It has been a wonderful trip. Hoping to find some more news to share with you guys today. :)
  • Yeah Paul. Great question on the slow and dreadful XBL certification process and how it keeps developers from releasing updates and bug fixes.. He says they want it to be good but yet there are broken achievements in alot of games.
  • Hoping to see some of these features to smartglass work on the 360 as well.
  • all i want to know now is the features of GDR2 update on the Lumia 925 .. can someone tell what have been fixed and the new features that come with it??
  • Yea wrong place buddy, go to the forums.
  • What I really want is a Sony windows phone!
  • Yeah I would like to see what Sony would do with a windows phone also, but really like my Lumia 900
  • Good interview. The biggest thing missing for me on Xbox games is global leaderboards. Having them would add a lot of competitive value to games like Bejeweled Live+ and Angry Birds.
  • How about letting updates go through for wp8 xbla games instead of delaying/rejecting them over and over without reason. EDIT: after reading the article I am glad you asked that question :D will watch the video when I have time. EDIT 2: I dislike his answer deeply.. I'd hope your trying to make it better.... But having the xbl certification process in the way just slows things down and developers don't even bother with the game anymore..
  • Here is what Microsoft can make to get people attracted to Windows phone and to keep people happy who already own one.
    1. Make deals with popular game developers and spend money to bring their games to Windows phone and Windows 8. I believe indie developers will port the games for less money.
    2. Make sure the that they make it work with low memory devices also (512MB).
    3. Now release one game per week for free on both Windows phone 8 and Windows 8.
  • The lack of independent volume controls is baffling to me.  I remember having it on dumbphones and old Nokia Symbian phones back in 2006.
    I mean, really, what's up with that?
  • Excuses, excuses, excuses is what i see, the last interview with some other executives was also same, better not interview such politicians!!
  • I would have like to hear when can I rent movies for my phone.
  • With iOS adding an official gamepad api to version 7 announced at WWDC (same time as E3 2013) - I would have loved to have seen a question about the possibility of an XBox gamepad spec for Windows Phone thrown at the WP team.  We don't even have MOGA Pro working on WP yet:
  • Probably the best interview yet, with a Microsoft employee. I'm excited knowing that Peter is excited!
  • Someone tell this guys to have Microsoft make a hybrid Bluetooth controller for ALL Windows Phones, giving the developers something to work with. Tired of waiting for these ridiculous excuses by Moga. Start pushing your own product. You can't afford to wait for these other fools dragging their feet. What your doing with Halo Assault is the right idea....other than Gameloft, no one is giving Windows Phone a second look. So you said "screw it", you'll do it. Keep it going. They aren't going to make some hardware that is starting to become do it again. You guys have done this before with the original Xbox and you dislodged the unbeatable PlayStation by doing it. Your turn this phone line into a REAL gaming platform, and I promise you that your numbers will increase substantially.
  • Exactly if they can't be bothered, why would 3rd parties be bothered, we need to see some enthusiasm from Microsoft here, we know you can do it ms, now DO IT!
  • Xbox Music needs to figure out metadata... It baffles me how all my explicit songs, when matched in Xbox Music, come up as edited. I don't want to listen to the edited versions of old 2pac or Biggie, thats why I have the explicit versions. Figure this out MS.
  • I hear you on that. Just one of the numerous problems with X Music. I just continue to use Zune.
  • Someone tell me how garage programmer Johnny Westfield can make Music Info in a weekend and it finds all my music, but Microsoft cant figure it out $2,000,000 and 10 months later. Someone should be fired .... No... A LOT of people should be fired.
  • All that certification, "for quality" and achievements still dont work insome games. They really should let devs just fix their atuff without recertification. its a waste of time and resources which is why many just dont fix them. Also, it really sucks when they delist content like doodle jump and angry birds. If you bought it, now you cant play it if you reset your phone. They do it on the marketplace as well, someone loses a license, you lose the game or content like marvel ultimate alliance. not cool
  • Yeah, there is a disconnect between Microsoft employees' perception of the Xbox Live certification process's quality and the actual results. Plus it's a wrongheaded attitude towards updates that harms countless games, WP and console alike.
  • Microsoft has already stated used games will work with the Xbox One
  • Used games will work if the publisher allows it. And if the game was sold to an authorized partner. And if you sacrificed your firstborn son to Zuul.
  • Thanks guys!