What is missing from Windows Phone 8? About 20 Xbox games that no longer work.

Yesterday’s delisting of Turn N Run – literally the night before our review went live, and only six days after the game’s release – highlights a large and ongoing problem in the world of Xbox Windows Phone games. Since the debut of Windows Phone 8, incompatibility with the new OS has been discovered among a number of Xbox WP7 titles. Each of these games has been completely delisted from the web version of the Windows Phone Store, and either partially or fully removed from Store searches on actual Windows Phones.

Read on to learn what games have been affected so far, and how Microsoft may be mishandling the Windows Phone 8 incompatibility issues in more ways than one.

Missing games from Windows Phone 8

First, let’s look at the list of Windows Phone 7 games that aren’t compatible with Windows Phone 8. As stated earlier, every single title’s Windows Phone Store page is was offline:

  1. Big Buck Hunter Pro - Review
  2. Contract Killer
  3. Dodonpachi Maximum - Review
  4. Fable Coin Golf - Review
  5. Full House Poker - Review
  6. Ghostscape - Review - (Update 6)
  7. Glow Artisan - Review
  8. The Harvest - Review
  9. Hasta La Muerte
  10. KenKen (Update 2)
  11. Need for Speed: Undercover (Update 10)
  12. OMG: Our Manic Game - Review
  13. Orbital - Review
  14. The Oregon Trail - Review
  15. Pac-Man Kart Rally - Review
  16. Pool Pro Online 3 - Review
  17. Sid Meier's Pirates
  18. Splinter Cell Conviction - Review
  19. Tentacles - Review
  20. Zombie Attack 2: Second Wave - Review

After this article's publication, this list has alternately grown and shrunk over time.

Games whose Windows Phone 8 compatibility has been restored

We added this section to the article after its publication in order to make tracking newly compatible games easier. See the full update list at the bottom of this article.

  1.  Babel Rising 3D - Update 12
  2. Chaos Rings - Update 11
  3. Crimson Dragon: Side Story - Review - Update 3
  4. Feed Me Oil - Update 7
  5. Fruit Ninja (WP7 version) - Update 13
  6. The Harvest - Update 13
  7. Parking Mania (Nokia Exclusive) - Updates 4 and 7
  8. Risk (Nokia Exclusive) - Update 4
  9. Spy Mouse (Nokia Exclusive) - Update 5
  10. Turn N Run - Review - Update 6
  11. Shuffle Party - Review - Update 8
  12. iBomber Defense (Nokia exclusive) - Update 9
  13. Trivial Pursuit
  14. Shoot 1Up (Update 1)

Only partially gone

Windows Phone Store Not Found

Follow the store link pages for the above games and you'll encounter this message.

Many of us have been operating under the assumption that these games have been completely pulled from the Windows Phone Store. As it turns out, that’s not quite true. Yes, their webpages on the Store are gone, prompting us to believe the games were taken down as well. But most or all of these games can still be downloaded by searching for them directly from a Windows Phone 7 handset. On WP8 devices, they do not appear in searches.

This method of preventing incompatible software purchases by WP8 users is pretty obviously flawed. As I said, removing the actual webpages makes the games appear to be completely gone. You might guess the reason Microsoft does that is because the Windows Phone Store’s website lacks the ability to differentiate between titles that are compatible with one device and not another. But that’s not the case at all.

The few existing Windows Phone 8-specific games like Angry Birds Star Wars have their own dedicated Store pages, despite the fact that they can’t be used by WP7 handsets. Even before WP8 came along, Nokia games like Mirror’s Edge have been viewable on the Store. They can’t actually be purchased from the website, but at least everyone can tell the games exist at a glance. Clearly Microsoft could opt to use one of these existing solutions for WP7-specific games, if they weren’t trying to sweep their existence under the rug.

Not many gamers will be sad to see bug-laden Contract Killer steer clear of WP8

How this affects developers

We contacted the developers of the semi-delisted games to find out what they knew about their titles’ WP8 incompatibility and Windows Phone Store status. Here’s where things get a bit upsetting. In all but two cases, the developers had not been made aware of their games’ Store pages getting taken down. Of that large group, one developer knew their game was incompatible with WP8 and was already working on a fix, but the partial delisting still came as a surprise to them.

A few anonymous quotes from affected developers:

  • “WOW! We had no idea about this... we'll have to give MS a shout ourselves, but in the meantime, you might as well ask them yourself too ;)
    Yeah, nobody from there gave us any sort of heads up that *I'm* aware of... maybe it's just a temporary issue? Maybe they're phasing out all WP7 only content?”
  • “Unfortunately, we do not know anything about it, and Microsoft did not alert us. We can only guess that it is indeed associated with Microsoft's attempt to clean away all the apps are not compatible with the WP8.”
  • “In regards to WP7 games being pulled, I had no idea that was happening.  We hadn't heard anything from the guys at Microsoft that handle [the publishing of our game], so we've sent them an email asking for details.  I would like to get it back onto the store, but we'll see what our guys at Microsoft say.”
  • “We had not been notified that this would be pulled. We will investigate and see what we can do.”

Pulling a game’s Store page without notifying the developers may show a lack of courtesy, but that’s not the big issue. The real problem is that because these developers did not know their games don’t work on WP8, they could not begin the process of developing patches to correct those mistakes. Yes, several of them were eager to do so after we gave them the heads up, but that’s really Microsoft’s job as the Windows Phone Store owner, not ours.

Whoever made the decision to partially delist these games without telling the people who made those games seems not to care about whether those games get updated to run on Windows Phone 8 or not. Ouch. Considering the large number of affected games, getting them up and running again should be a priority for both Microsoft and the developers.

Risk

Lumia 820, 822, and 920 owners can't play Nokia exclusives Risk, Spy Mouse, or Trivial Pursuit

Bringing the games back

In most cases, the developers weren’t comfortable discussing the actual technical reasons for their titles’ incompatibility with Windows Phone 8. Generally, the games simply crash at start-up or soon after when launched from a WP8 device. One developer did get a little more detailed, explaining that XNA works differently across WP7 and WP8, despite both platforms relying on ARM processors. This difference in underlying XNA architecture seems to be the main cause of these compatibility issues.

That said, the vast majority of Xbox WP7 games work just fine with WP8. In fact, some hardware-intensive games like Plants vs. Zombies actually load much faster than they ever did on WP7. So the transition to WP8 actually boosts performance at times. I’m also expecting Big Buck Hunter Pro’s nigh-impossible Dove Hunt minigame to work properly when it gets patched with WP8 support.

We asked Microsoft about the incompatibility and partial delistings for this story, and this is what they said:

“The Windows Phone 8 platform was designed to run existing 7x apps, but some may require a degree of optimization given the new hardware and software capabilities. We are encouraging all developers to test their apps with our new SDK to help ensure that apps and games run great and take full advantage of new features. We expect the catalog of existing app titles on new devices to grow steadily over the coming weeks and months.”

Microsoft’s handling of the WP8 incompatibility issues may not be highly encouraging, but the problem will certainly ease up over time as new Xbox WP7 releases fade away in favor of exclusively-WP8 games. Also, some affected WP7 games will simply be patched and return to the Store as normal.

Of the 25 games listed so far, we expect about a third or half of them to get updated for Windows Phone 8 in the coming months. Some of the developers we spoke with have already identified the reasons for incompatibility and started working on fixes. However, several of the older titles will probably remain WP7-exclusive due to their developers’ lack of resources or continued interest in the WP8 platform.

Update log

  • Update 1: The Oregon Trail is now WP8 compatible, while Shoot 1UP has been partially delisted due to incompatibility.
  • Update 2: Babel Rising 3D briefly returned to WP8 but it still crashed on launch and was soon pulled. KenKen was partially delisted despite running just fine on WP8.
  • Update 3: Crimson Dragon: Side Story is now compatible.
  • Update 4: Risk is now WP8 compatible, while iBomber Defense and Parking Mania have been partially delisted.
  • Update 5: Spy Mouse becomes WP8 compatible.
  • Update 6: Turn N Run becomes WP8 compatible, but Ghostscape gets partially delisted.
  • Update 7: Parking Mania and Feed me Oil gain compatibility.
  • Update 8: Shuffle Party gains compatibility.
  • Update 9: iBomber Defense returns to WP8, but still suffers from crashes.
  • Update 10: Need for Speed: Undercover gets delisted from WP8.
  • Update 11: Chaos Rings becomes available on WP8.
  • Update 12: Babel Rising 3D gets a WP8 version.
  • Update 13: The Harvest and Fruit Ninja (WP7) return to the Store. The Harvest still had video playback problems.

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!

150 Comments
  • The only one in that list I own is Tenticles and I don't yet own a Win 8 phone so there is yet time to fix this. Now if the game This Or That wasn't working there would be some bloodshead!  That is still my favorite time waster game.
  • I paid for fable coin golf, tentacles, and the harvest. I want a refund.
  • I feel ya
  • Missing quite a few on the list...
    Hoping they're working soon...
  • Yeah.. Get at me when you pay for a game and they just remove it completely from the store. I miss you Star Wars tower defense!
  • Hah. I just deleted that game from my Venue Pro about two weeks ago. I heard later levels got really buggy. The first few levels didn't seem buggy. Ah well. It was kinda fun.
  • I have Fable Coin Golf, Tentacles, Feed Me Oil, Full House Poker and Shuffle Party.  And my WP8 is being delivered this week.  I'm sure they'll fix this problem, but this just grinds my gears a little.  They should just call all these games rentals since I guess we don't really own any of them... just the license to play them.
  • Technically, there is almost nothing on your phone that you own beyond a license to use.
  • And that is absolutely NOT the american way! 
  • I hope you're being sarcastic... the Americans pretty much invented that way :P
  • I just got my 920 yesterday and I got still use my old phone over WiFi for xbox live games. Seeing I've finished most of them now anyway its really no big deal
  • Man, I guess nobody played Operation: Sunburst at all! I can see why they discontinued it... =/
  • I played Sunburst, it was actually pretty fun and innovative to play on real world maps.
    I did eventually get tired of it though.
  • Yeah, it was quite a novelty at first, but got old very quickly. Also, the server issues never got fixed, taking a lot of fun out of trying to play the game.
  • Pfft $12? Big deal get a grip. They'll be back soon
  • So go on the chat support system at Microsoft's Windows Phone site and ask for one :). I asked for refunds for two games I'd bought via my carrier rather than credit card, and apparently there's some issue with refunds made with purchases of that kind. So the rep instead gave me $25 in Xbox Live points :D
     
    Not bad for $5 worth of games I'd already finished anyway :p
  • I really want to play Crimson Dragon on my 920!
  • you cant play Crimson Dragon on the 920?  *facepalm*  do I need to go dredge up that quote about them saying that they (Microsoft) would recompile WP7 apps in the background to work with WP8 and developers wouldn't have to do anything?  WHAT THA F?!?!?
  • There have obviously been some complications. Read the article...
  • LIKEWISE! I was enjoying the game but wanted to wait for WP8 before going any further in that game. How I'm glad to know its roots in Panzer Dragoon are shown. Long live Panzer Dragoon!
  • Removing apps without notifying the developers is absolutely unacceptable. Hopefully they look into this and rectify the process as soon as possible.
  • No they knew, they had native code access, this is why indie developers didn't get it in WP7, they knew this would happen
  • I don't if this has been mentioned...but MSFTs own Photosynth is absent too. Below is the response I received from the program manager... "Our WP8 app for Photosynth is in final testing, and will be released to the marketplace in a few weeks. Unfortunately our WP7.5 app will NOT work on WP8, so you will be Photosynth-less until we make our release."
  • I frowned when I realized photosynth was missing, then even harder when I found that TuneIn was missing also
  • Yeah .. really miss TuneIn, which I had on my HD7 and have on my Win 8.
  • Yep I was looking for those two as well
  • Ah thats total crap! TuneIn is da s*** for me anyways
  • I found tune in to be buggy. But I hope they release it to wp8 and make it more stable
  • I want Fable Coin Golf back. Shuffle Party would be nice, but I can live without it.
  • I miss Shuffle Party so much :(
  • I never really saw the appeal of those games... I'm installing again now to see if it's better a second time around :P
  • No good news day for gamers, stop it already paul!
  • Ha ha, I'm done for the night. This one's been in the works for a while and we finally gathered enough info to finish it off today. :)
  • This is madness.
    While nobody is gonna cry after Contract Killer is gone, I can't figure out a reason to prevent games like Tentacles or Feed Me Oil from being discovered and purchased by the millions of people using WP7.
    Oh, and so much Microsoft's promises, that all WP7 apps would work on WP8.
  • The apps were given special native code access, of course it won't work in another OS
  • Do you have a source for those claims?
  • It looks like OhNokiaDidnt has provided a clue with regards to Photosynth app...are these related, Paul? I can't believe ticom has posted twice the same thing, excellent integrity asking for proof. ;)
  • Why thank you. :)
  • Where have all the Hexage games gone?
  • Still there. I downloaded radiant defense on my 8X yesterday.
  • Is that through reinstaller or something? I can't find that doing a search in WP7 marketplate or on the web marketplace
  • Shame on you Microsoft "Developers Developers Developers"
  • I have yet to beat The Harvest and with this news it seems I'll have to hold on to my focus as not only can't transfer the game save but I can't play it on my new 920. Very disappointing.
  • You should hold onto it anyway, why give up such good and worthy hardware?
  • Who cares about games when even Facebook app hardly usable? 
  • Who cares about that. You can just go to http://touch.facebook.com from your browser.
  • Who cares about that when you can just use the people hub
  • Why so? :(
     
    Delivery of my Lumia 920 just got puched back a few weeks, with all this chaos im not sure I want it yet anyway.
  • HAH! I got it today! Nevermind the chaos I love my new white Lumia920! =D
  • The only game that I really miss is Glow Artisan. Either way, I still have my Samsung Focus and can play it there.
  • Seriously, does no one keep their previous devices..? =P
    I know, I know, it just shouldn't be like this...just saying. ;)
  • Why bother ? I am not going to use it again unless my WP8 phone breaks(and I pay for insurance for that). Right now there is a market for it where I can get good money for it so I will sell it now.
     
    Still the fact remains, I upgraded to the newest Verson of Windows Phone, Microsoft said all apps will run on Wp8 but, now we know there are acceptions to that rule, they should refund us money or chaise down the devs to fix the problems with the games. Not just delete them from the marketplace with out telling the Devs....an email at least should of gone out...No excuse..
  • Great article Paul.
     
    Having said that, this really pisses me off.  The game space is already small enough.  It annoys me to see Tentacles a top app on iOS and you can't even get it on WP8. 
  • I need my DoDonPachi!!!
  • Everything is missing. Well. At least until in can use it as Telus won't get any win 8 phones. I am so peeed.
  • OMG is a great game I'd like to plug back in on my Lumia 920. This stuff just shouldn't happen. When I pay for stuff, I expect it to be available and work. Jeez. Windows Mobile was great in respect to I could download something and keep the file archived someplace. No store. As the versions of Windows Mobile were updated, the software apps could be loaded and worked. Easy, simple, reliable.
  • Yeah, but again you're only extolling the virtue of CE not Windows... =/
  • For Microsoft's poor handling of games, lack of Xbox video support, lack of apps, poor excuse of a music store, and too many other reasons is why I'll be switching back to iPhone or trying out android for the first time, they've really shit the bed on this!
  • Despite the poor handling of this, I am sticking around. I have watched quite a number of iOS and Android friends have to deal with their respective platforms' dirty little secrets. I don't intended to jump from one frying pan into another.
  • Good point.
  • Why not just dial it to the previous Windows Phone? I truly feel that people like you are Apple seeds just waiting for things like this so you can proclaim to users you will flee like a stinking rat...plaebian. =P
  • I agree, I might even go as far as saying i am sick of the smartphone war and go back to a "dumb" phone.
  • The music store is far better than anything on iOS and Android
  • Wow...seriously, I'm kinda happy right now I wasn't given an early upgrade to a WP8 device. I'd miss Dodonpachi Maximum. Not to mention, Tango Video Chat is not available either on WP8. It's a really downer when I try to put some apps on my dad's phone that are cross platform, to find out it isn't available like Tango Video Chat....
  • I was looking for that too
  • What an absolute clusterfuck. It's appalling and absolutely unacceptable that this situation played out the way it did.
    At this stage of the game when it's critical that MSFT builds as much positive momentum as possible, it's amazing that someone allowed this to happen. Everything isn't going to be perfect, but there are things that are preventable and this is a prime example of a preventable situation.
  • It's just a few games. They'll get it fixed in due time. Meanwhile, I'm fairly sure that, somehow, I'll manage through. you figure they rewrote an entire operating system in a short amount of time from the kernel up. So, there were bound to be some hiccups along the way.
     
    Not to mention, no OS is perfect. Which is why it always amuses me when people say MS jacked this up so I'm switching to iOS or Android as if no flaws exist with either of those two. Which makes me wonder if and when they do switch and realize the stuff that's jacked up about the other two will they then switch to Blackberry, or Asha, a feature phone maybe, or back to Windows Phone. Gotta love people. Hah.
  • I remember WP7 didnt even have a feature to copy and paste text until 7.5 mango. This is why i am waiting until end of next year for WP8. I knew some crap like this would happen. Give them time to fix all this mess up.
  • Actually, copy/paste came before Mango. Still, we'll just have to wait and see.
  • No, that was NoDo with copy-paste... Available 5-6 months after release.
  • Its not the fact that the games aren't working, it's the whole pulling the games without informing devs - that's the problem. It did not have to be that way. Someone dropped the ball big time.
  • I'd like to say I played rise of glory today for the first time on my 920. It was cool.
  • These games don't run on WP8 because they use native code. Certain essential games were given native code access because they were a high priority. Also I think they pulled the store page to not upset WP8 users as much.
  • None of the developers we spoke with said anything like that. What's your source?
  • How can they not know? Developers should be on top of it two...."It takes two to tango"
  • Developers don't just sit on the internet refreshing the store page for a game they released weeks or months ago.
  • I was thinking the same thing too. If I was a developer with paid apps I would be monitoring my app listing in the store and would have been testing my apps on a WP8 device. It looks like everyone wants’ be blame Microsoft, what about the developers that appear to be clueless about their own apps.
  • If Microsoft keeps up treating it's store the way they are, they will never increase adoption among users or developers. It doesn't matter how good the hardware is if there is no software for it. Microsoft needs to get their act straight really fast and treat developers with some respect.
  • Paul, let me just say kudos for uncovering this rock.  Microsoft is mailing it in with WP8 and this is just ONE of the many problems they need public shaming over.  Who gives a crap if devices are selling at 4 times the rate they were with WP7, in some ways WP7 owners HAVE IT BETTER and that is just shameful.
  • things like this make me want to refrain from  getting my friends to switch to wp8. i love and preach about this platform, im def a fanboy. but wp8 is def a step backwards from wp7. i might as well use my 920 as a coaster and use my htc titan instead. idk i just wish more games and apps were compatable. microsoft made it seem like it would  be a seemless transisition. as soon as i saw reinstaller was broken, i started getting scared.
  • If a dev publishes a game and a month later doesn't realized its been pulled from the store I think that says something about how much support they're providing. Seriously, it wasn't like WP8 was some kind of secret or surprise.
  • I have 10 of those games that I now can't play on my L920
  • How about an article detailing all the features that are missing from Windows 8 that use to be in Windows 7.5 like FM Radio, easy access to Facbook uploads, missing apps, etc
  • True... although the FM Tuner is not included in the hardware, so I was expecting that. I do wonder if the OS no longer supports it, or it was just an OEM decision to collectively decide to drop that component.
  • As I understand that is incorrect. All current (at least the HTC 8X and the Lumia 920), have the hardware for FM radio, they just need software to enable it. Word from Microsoft is that they where not ready with it for the release of the handsets. It could come down in a software update.
     
    I would LOVE for WPcentral to investigate this a little more to know 100% and if MS was going to do anthing about it...
     
    i have been following this for a while now, as I use FM radio a lot during baseball season... and kind of pissed off about MS pulling it so I did research....
  • Sorry should have said Windows Phone. And what's up with the keyboard. I'm not sure what's going on here but I'll be typing and all of a sudden the words are different.
  • Same here. Wp8 is WEIRD
  • This should be expected. You've got games that have broken achievements. I mean broken from day 1 and no patch. So I don't see devs jumping to update now.
    What really sucks is you can't transfer game saves/progress from your old phone to your new one. Even though it was said in W8 if you lost your phone with the push of a button your new one would be cloned basically.
  • Hold up, hold up, wait a second, hold it. Ok, there's something disconnected with this article. I have personally tried searching for several of the referenced games on Windowsphone.com and also came up empty. HOWEVER, when I click on the marketplace app link that takes you directly to the app page, I AM able to see the apps. I am in the US and I do now have a Lumia 920, so when I see the app pages I see a message indicating that the app is not compatible with my version of my phone. It is a gross exaggeration to say that Microsoft is taking app pages down. They still exist and are out there. If app developers don't know about app compatibility with WP8 yet, then I would hope that Microsoft is going to notify developers en mass. Application compatibility issues are to be expected, and we all hope that those apps that are incompatible will be identified and fixed. Assuming that Microsoft is erring on the side of an excellent experience (we can only hope) then I'd rather that the apps that are known to have issues be unavailable. Just imagine the hatemail that would otherwise be spilling all over the internet if the apps were just passed through and were broken. Unlike a carrier blocked upgrade, an app update should be available in due time. Thank you WPCentral for reaching out to the devs because if they didn't know about the incompatibility, they now do.
  • Tested website search and following links before writing the article and neither worked.
  • yeah no m not upgrading to wp8 any time soon :D . m sure by the time compatibility issue is resolved wp9 would have appeared.
  • I'm almost certain Apollo plus update will resolve this and more... =P
  • I really miss Orbital. Loved the neon graphics and simple game play. It was very addictive.
  • Feed me oil!!!
    Pfff thanks WP7.5 I'm happy with it :)