Back in July of last year, Microsoft announced plans to release Zoo Tycoon Friends for Windows 8.1 and Windows Phone. In addition to being an Xbox title, the game looked to fit into the growing trend of simulation and management games for mobile. Later in October, the game finally launched after some limited testing and things were looking good for the game.
Jump ahead to early 2015, and it does not take much to find complaints in the Store about the title. Reviews are littered with the same grievances, which includes the backend servers essentially not working, rendering the game (and any purchases) useless.
Today, Microsoft is throwing in the towel. In an email sent to those who are playing the game, Microsoft Studios have announced that Zoo Tycoon Friends is shutting down on April 28, 2015. Microsoft says that the closure is part of their "ebb and flow" of portfolio management, but there is little doubt that the game's constant problems likely forced their hand.
This decision is not the first time Microsoft has canned a seemingly favorite universal Xbox game for Windows and Windows Phone. Back in late 2013, Microsoft axed their distinctive space battle and strategy game Galactic Reign. Galactic Reign (review) did some unique things like rendering space battles on Microsoft's cloud servers, which were then viewable within the game as a mini-movie. The game had many fans, including the staff here, but Microsoft still nixed it.
It is a shame for those who invested time and money into Zoo Tycoon Friends, especially since the game had a shelf life of literally six months. Sometimes it makes you wonder who is managing these programs and how they can seemingly go so wrong.
You can still download the game for Windows Phone here, although the Windows version has already been pulled.
Thanks, Benni L., for the tip and email
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Daniel Rubino is the Editor-in-chief of Windows Central. He is also the head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft since 2007, when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, laptops, next-gen computing, and watches. He has been reviewing laptops since 2015 and is particularly fond of 2-in-1 convertibles, ARM processors, new form factors, and thin-and-light PCs. Before all this tech stuff, he worked on a Ph.D. in linguistics, watched people sleep (for medical purposes!), and ran the projectors at movie theaters because it was fun.