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.