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More info on WP7 Marketplace, Gaming and Development revealed

Yesterday at IndyTechFest, William Steele of Microsoft held a session on "Building Applications on Windows Phone 7 with XNA" which was recorded on UStream for all to watch.

While geared for developers, there were a few nuggets of information made available that many of you may find interesting.  And once again, we'll save you the hour with a summary of the new information:

 Development

  • Regarding orientation, Silverlight is portrait by default; XNA is landscape, though of course they can be altered
  • XNA games are limited to 30 FPS, but that's also the limit on the physical screen's refresh rate
  • Only Silverlight can use on-screen keyboard; not yet available for XNA but you can write your own custom keyboard in XNA
  • Games built on XNA 4.0 will NOT run on the Zune (there's a "real reason" and one they're telling us publicly. Hmmm...)
  • Silverlight app shows up in the Apps Menu; XNA apps shows up in the Games Menu or some special hub
  • XNA is obviously geared towards gaming; Silverlight is "user event driven", but both can basically do the same things

Marketplace

  • For buying software, Windows Phone Marketplace will be in dollars; Xbox Marketplace will be Points ("funny money")
  • Two separate markets (Xbox and Windows Phone Marketplace), meaning you'll have to buy the same game/different platform twice, no way to link (?)
  • "Featured" area of Marketplace = paid promotion of application by developer
  • Trial-ware will provide link to buy, pause game, hop to marketplace to buy and then continue game (like Xbox)
  • No in-game purchasing yet (e.g. bonus levels, avatars, etc.), but definitely something they are looking at

Some revealing tidbits there.

We're not at all thrilled with the purported fragmentation of the Marketplace between Xbox and Windows Phone. While developers will only have to write the software once for PC, Xbox and Phone (the first two go to one market, the latter to another) there seems to be no way to connect purchases for the consumer. That seems like a bad idea. It's also baffling as to how you can't purchase the two together but they can interact across platforms (we suppose it has to do with the backbone "cloud services"). We suggest one solution would be for developers to offer "redemption codes" to consumer who buy on one platform, to "purchase" on the other. That system already exists on Xbox, though it could be a hassle.

We also now have confirmation that the Zune HD appears to be locked out of all of future development, despite being able to run XNA 2D (and unofficially 3D with some tricks). Evidently Microsoft has a real reason, which they are not telling the public--we speculate that it's because the Zune hardware has an expiration date.

Daniel Rubino is the Executive Editor of Windows Central, head reviewer, podcast co-host, and analyst. He has been covering Microsoft here since 2007, back when this site was called WMExperts (and later Windows Phone Central). His interests include Windows, Microsoft Surface, laptops, next-gen computing, and arguing with people on the internet.

6 Comments
  • I think there was strong rumors or thoughts back at MiX when XNA 4.0 was talked about not supporting ZuneHD that a new ZuneHD2 was on the way. This seems to be more and more the case, and it wouldn't surprise me that with the Zune Marketplace going to the UK sune (starting with KIN phones via Vodafone) that this new ZuneHD2 will be the one to finally go international as well. Only time will tell, there could also be a different reason like DX10? I've read that WP7 will use some DX10 stuff? I dunno if the ZundHD can do any of those effects or even run that API path on it's tegra 1 hardware.
  • I suspect GP007 is right, a new ZuneHD2 may be on the horizon that meets the WP7 display requirements. Regarding "buying a game twice/different platform". Well, is the big screen and portable device gaming experience the same...even if it is the same title. No. Don't be surprised if XBox MarketPlace purchases includes both the big screen and portable versions.
  • they're in different markets because it makes no sense for them to be in the same marketplace. if you're looking for games, go to the games hub enhanced marketplace. If you want apps for the phone, you do the phone marketplace. and yes you only have to write once for the three platforms but all you would create for that purpose is a game. you will never see LOB or normal apps span all 3 because an event loop through xna is not a good development model for those kinds of applications.
  • "We're not at all thrilled with the purported fragmentation of the Marketplace between Xbox and Windows Phone. While developers will only have to write the software once for PC, Xbox and Phone (the first two go to one market, the latter to another) there seems to be no way to connect purchases for the consumer. That seems like a bad idea." Whether or not its a bad idea, its really an existing policy that they are just extending. Currently you can buy the same game for PC/Xbox via Game Room or via Games on Demand, Games for Windows Live etc. When you buy a liscens for one, you have to buy a liscense for another if you wish to play it on a different platform. Hopefully they will get us going an a "bundled liscense" which they currently do with Game Room products. You pay more but get to you use the software on both PC and Xbox 360.
  • "Hopefully they will get us going an a "bundled license" which they currently do with Game Room products. You pay more but get to you use the software on both PC and Xbox 360." Yeah, I should have more clear as that was what I was getting at, if there was some way to do that, but from the sounds of it you can't. Didn't mean that if we buy a $5 game in the Phone Marketplace we should automatically get the Xbox version as well for the same price.
  • One of the biggest selling points of Windows Phone 7 was going to be the ability to run the same games on Xbox as WP7. However, when they are artificially separated like that, for the consumer, they may as well be 2 different platforms. Advantage gone.