Microsoft to take cross-platform gaming seriously with new titles on the way

Microsoft hasn't pushed gaming enough on Windows Phone, which has been adequately covered in our series of editorials by Paul Acevedo. We've gone into some detail as to who Microsoft can save Xbox Games for Windows Phone, but it seems the company does have plans to tackle the issue. Still aiming for the "Three Screens" goal, Microsoft is looking to release some titles in the future to take advantage of cross-platform support.

It makes perfect sense. Windows Phone. Windows PC (and tablets). Xbox. That's a massive family of potential with Xbox powering the video game console industry, Windows advancing the desktop environment and Windows Phone sporting Xbox Live connectivity. It's a recipe for success, but Microsoft really has to step up its game to take full advantage of the integration with Microsoft Account. This will require developers to be on-board to produce content.

Senior Xbox Live Product Marketing Manager Peter Orullian has promised that Microsoft is going after mobile in a big way, urging developers to take full advantage of Xbox Live servers to build cross-platform games with asynchronous multiplayer elements and cloud storage. During a phone conversation with PC World, Orullian confirmed that at least two more cross-platform titles are coming to the Windows Store. 

It's reported these games will enable consumers to start a game on a device of choice, pause it, and start again on a completely different platform where the state was paused. For example, you could be battling hard on a Windows 8 tablet on the train, to then continue on Windows Phone while on the move through the station. It's exactly how we all imagine Xbox Live gaming to be, with Windows Phone at the very heart of the experience alongside Xbox and Windows 8.


Indie game Armed! is cross-platform

Orullian points out that Music, Video and Games apps that are bundled with Windows Phone, Windows and Xbox are proof that Microsoft is committed to unifying digital entertainment across a number of devices, within the new Windows ecosystem. Unfortunately, this hasn't quite become the story for gaming, which surely has to change should it become anything but a failure.

The PC World article brings up a point which many Windows Phone owners have shouted about since the platform launched. Xbox Live games don't actually sport special functionality with Xbox Live, beyond being a dumping ground for achievements. Fast-paced multiplayer would be difficult to implement correctly, taking into account multiple form factors and control layouts, but turn-based gameplay is definitely a perfect suit for Microsoft's cross-platform approach. The company already knows this, cue Skulls of the Shogun.

Skulls of Shogun

Skulls of the Shogun proves Microsoft can do it

Borut Pfeiffer, an independent developer who worked on the popular Skulls of the Shogun (a Microsoft title that's available on Windows Phone, Xbox and Windows), predicts we'll see a slew of new asynchronous games hitting the Microsoft ecosystem in the next few months. Should Pfeiffer be correct, consumers will be able to look forward to cross-platform gaming in the near future.

We've also got the likes of Armed!, which isn't an Xbox Live title and is available on Windows Phone, Windows 8 and also iOS - opening up multiplayer gameplay. Microsoft can definitely work on this, adding such indie gems to its Xbox Live catalogue and working with developers to add more rich functionality to the overall gaming experience.

Microsoft should also look at getting a huge title out for its platforms, including Windows, Xbox and Windows Phone. Much like Halo on the Xbox, Microsoft needs to give gamers a reason to go from Windows or the gaming console, to a Windows Phone (and vice versa) to continue enjoying the same gaming experience. We're going to need to see a new franchise born with Windows Phone and cross-platform gameplay in mind.

Cross-platform gaming is Microsoft's secret weapon. We only hope the company will take full advantage.

Source: PC World; thanks, drankurn, for the tip!

Rich Edmonds
Senior Editor, PC Build

Rich Edmonds was formerly a 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 on Twitter at @RichEdmonds.

  • Nice to hear MS is still onboard and showing some Xbox live love!
  • I wish they make My Country game XBL. It runs great on RT as well as WP8.
  • This would be wicked! I wish developers would get onboard and help the platform grow. In my opinion, Windows Phone 8 has much more potential than iOS or Android.
  • "Microsoft needs to give gamers a reason to go from Windows or gaming console, to Windows Phone" and not port it to iOS and Android either.
  • +111111111
  • Every advantage Microsoft has had with gamers on Windows Phone they soon gave away to the competition. Halo Waypoint, Xbox Extras, exclusive games (Kinectimals), and most recently earning Xbox Live achievements (Wordament on iOS).
  • You get achievements on iOS? Damn Microsoft! I never knew that. Bet Ballmer was on crack when he nodded to this decision.
  • My only nit pick with this is that Microsoft haven't given us the buy once play on three screens option at all. We are still expected to buy the game/app for each platform whether it's Xbox, Windows, or Windows Phone.
  • +1
  • This. Was touted at E3 a million years ago with Zuma? bejeweled? Sony does it with Cross buy (buy PS3 version, get Vita version) why can't MS?
  • I think there should be a choice, since not everyone wants to buy it for all the platforms.
  • who cares where you want to play the game. if i am paying for a licence for a game i want to play it where it can be installed. I can play computer titles on eveyr plattform where i can install it. if i buy a video i also want to watch it where ever i want. 
  • you need to think before you go on a rant. do you think people will pay console price, if they want to only play it on their phone.
  • Maybe there should be an option/license to buy individually or buy for all screens. Different pricing.
  • I agree for things like videos, but when it cones to games, so much more effort goes in to developing each version, so either you get charged significantly more for a single license that pets you play on all platforms or you purchase individually. I know bringing one of my titles to Windows 8 was far from quick and easy. If I didn't see a return from it, I wouldn't of bothered. And the whole buy once thing means less of a return for devs. As a consumer its great, but terrible for devs, with larger devs already ignoring the platform, this would only make it worse.
  • This will be the downfall of WP if they don't fix it.
  • Currently there is another advantage with Live games for Windows 8/RT, if you install a live game on multiple devices your progress is sync'd so you can pick up where you left off (Except for RayMan, only game that isn't synching progress between my RT and 8 devices). Non Live games don't do this, at least not those that I've played.
  • Thats good microsoft. But I am afraid its not enough.
    Make a deal with top game developers just like you did with Gameloft.
    Make them develop all their games for both windows phone and windows 8. Try to push them to make as many titles as possible to be cross platform.
    Also make sure that they launch all their new games along with iOS and android in future.
    Encourage Indie developers to bring their games also by investing money.
  • Quick lesson in game/software development for you: Microsoft can't MAKE third-party developers do anything.
    Even if Microsoft is trying to sweeten the pot (which they are and never get credit for) if they try to impose too many restrictions/demands developers will stick with iOS & Android just so they don't have to deal with the frustration.
  • Bs...$$ talks
  • I was hoping for this to come. I will buy a windows 8 tablet when this happens
  • Come on do it Microsoft!!!
  • Adequately? That's a bit harsh.
  • Go go Microsoft go go Microsoft. Hopefully by the end of this year Xbox live for windows phone will finally reach its potential. I'll keep my fingers crossed.
  • I've heard these promises so many times already.
  • No brainer, you want success develop and put all (alot) of your resources into xbox games on the tele. Glad to hear this. Hope to see this.
  • I hope they're stance on multiplayer changes. I would like to play Nova 3 and MC4 with real multiplayer on Xbox Live. I would also like Bluetooth and otg cable support so I can use a controller. Quite possibly the biggest oversight I can think of. iOS has the most and best games yet only crap controller support. Android on the other hand you can hook up dozens of controllers and even use a 360 controller. WP8 needs to take a page from Windows RT and become more peripheral friendly. An official controller with phone cradle (think MOGA but not shitty) would send a loud and clear message that Windows Phones are for gaming. Stupid stupid decision not to do this.
  • This is the same song and dance we heard when windowsphone came out. And every year after. I've been waiting with everyone else but the patience hasn't paid off so far.
  • Im sure they can do it, but the problem is if they will charge for each specific platform.  If i have to buy the game three times,  fuck that, buy once download all, that is a true three screen approach.  If they want to charge each game, that is just a money grab and not going to help build the gaming platform that way.  Now the question is if they do the buy once and play all approach, will they over charge and ask for $29.99? 
    For a game like angry birds, it should be 99 cents for all. 
    For a game like shogun, it should be perhaps 9.99 for all. 
  • isnt blue an attempt to unify these stores? if so then i dont think you would have to pay three times no :D
  • Again, great from a consumer perspective, but you are saying you want to pay 99 cents to play a game on 3 platforms? Large developers already ignore the platform so how would them getting less revenue help encourage them? Prices would go up for this to work
  • I don't want to pay three times for the same game just for screen size.
  • then dont. 
  • Its not just screen size, significant work goes in to some games porting over to the other platforms. One of my games I spent a solid month taking from phone to tablet. I don't think people understand that, its not an overnight thing, and I wouldn't do it if there was no return with this whole buy once.
  • Cross Platform Gaming is a key element of an ecosystem and indeed Microsoft has currently a huge advantage on it, in terms of Dev tools and platform solutions and while it may not have catch up yet, its only a matter of time before cross platform gaming explodes. It’s the "Buy ONCE PLAY EVERYWHERE" policy that Microsoft needs to implement, force and focus on. Because Cross Platform may be available and work perfectly well, but not many people will pay for the SAME game, THREE times, in order to have cross platform compatibility across Windows 8 devices, Windows Phone and XBOX.
  • Why not Halo Wars?
  • I feel there is such a delay with the 3 screen idea due to the new Xbox coming out this fall. It is no coincidence that "blue" comes out this fall also. They maybe a little behind but I feel they are going to have it all working for all 3 devices when the fall hits.. And shock the gaming world
  • Big game releases (e.g. Call of Duty) could add to their value on Xbox if the included add-on mini games for the Win 8 PC and Win Phone 8 that add to XP etc.
  • activition would neve rdo that, they would gouge the hell oout of consumers with a three platform approach. 
  • It's nice that they plan this stuff, but to hear "at least two," is very disappointing. Microsoft has 2 or 3 dozen different IPs that they could publish games with. They could get Forza going like Asphalt 7, but with the ability to continue your career wherever you are. The same coudl occur with PGR. They could have Halo Wars work across several devices. There could be a 2-D, side-scrolling Banjo-Kazooie platformer with multi-platform saves. There are loads of titles they ALONE could work on, not to mention the loads of games that they could help third-party (especially indie) developers with.
    I still think that they need to fix the Xbox LIVE certification process. There are a couple of games where the developers have simply said that while they would LIKE to have their games branded as Xbox ones, the stories of the troubles with the process are just too great to put up with it when you're working with only one or two people.
  • Meh, I'll believe it when I see it MS... All words and no action...
  • Hey, Rich, shouldn't it be HOW and not WHO in the second sentence of the first paragraph? :)
  • So long as the achievements and XBL functionality - the "third screen" - really is Windows Phone alone, and not also iOS/Android/etc.  At the very least for a long exclusivity period for each title.  This needs to be different that "SmartGlass", which is on every device - this needs to directly target gamers and make them think "yeah, having a Windows Phone for this functionality I can't get anywhere else is something I want".
  • Portable Halo game- WP, w8, surface at anytime and anywhere at where ever you started or left off. Huge! Huge!
  • Im curious about price point reflections..
  • It's about time, always wondered why they used Xbox live if they never used it...
    As long as the prices are not crazy, Just like the new Spider Man, I find myself interested but, for $7, Way too much for a mobile game (I can buy last years AAA xbox tiles for $7-12 and wow a much better value for gaming)
  • Why one price buys for all screens won't work the way things are: usage of each kind of device. How many gamers on a phone? The gamer whose account the phone is attached to earns the achievements.
    How many gamers on a PC/tablet? Each gamer who paid for a license earns the achievements.
    How many gamers on an Xbox? Every gamer with an account on the console can earn the achievements. IOW, game and app licensing is going to have to change in a big way by switching to strictly per gamer or per device licensing, similar to how Office 365 licensing works. This has another likely ramification: everything will become licensed on a subscription basis. I have no doubt this will eventually happen, because it means more revenue than buy-once.