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Skulls of the Shogun Interview: Windows Phone outsells XBLA and Windows 8

Skulls of the Shogun has been an incredibly important game for Windows Phone and the Microsoft ecosystem as a whole. It’s the first Xbox Live game to cross platforms between the Xbox 360, Windows Phone, and Windows 8. It was also the Xbox Windows Phone game that ended the game drought we faced earlier this year. After so many weeks without a new game, Skulls quenched many a Windows Phone gamer’s thirst.

We had the opportunity to speak with Skulls of the Shogun developer 17-BIT twice last year, first at E3 and later Casual Connect. Of course, that was all before the game launched. Now that Skulls of the Shogun is live and in players’ hands, Windows Phone Central jumped at the opportunity to ask 17-BIT’s lead programmer Borut Pfeifer about how the game performed and what players can expect in the future.

Head past the break for the full video interview!

The price is right

In speaking with Borut at GDC 2013, we were thrilled to learn that the Windows Phone version of Skulls outsold Xbox 360 and Windows 8 versions by a significant margin. Part of the reason probably comes down to that nasty software drought I mentioned earlier. By the time Skulls rolled around, we were READY for something new to play! The game’s high quality certainly didn’t hurt either.

Another aspect that could have helped is the Windows Phone version’s $4.99 price. To that effect, Microsoft and 17-BIT have decided to retain that price indefinitely instead of raising it to $6.99 over time as originally planned. As for the other versions, the XBLA game has dropped to 800 MS Points ($10) and the Windows 8 version to $6.99.

The lower prices benefit everybody, but especially diehard supporters who buy all three games. The three-screen experience will cost $21.98 now instead of $29.99. (Yes, we’re a bit late on reporting the price drops. March was a very drunken, I mean busy month!)

Patches incoming

Pre-patch Windows Phone visuals

Most of us consider Skulls a fantastic game. But it does have a few problems ranging from bugs to somewhat jaggy and aliased visuals when running on Windows Phone 8 devices. The guys at 17-BIT are a dedicated bunch though, so as soon as the game launched they began working on a patch to set things right.

Many of Skulls’ technical issues stem from the long development and certification process. By the time Windows Phone 8 actually launched, the game had already entered certification. That means the developers couldn’t test it on Windows Phone 8 devices. What looks fine on a smaller screen won’t always look as beautiful on a larger one.

As the super cool kids who read all of our gaming articles probably know by now, Windows Phone 7 games cannot support true Windows Phone 8 resolutions. They are locked to 800 x 480 and then get upscaled when running on devices with higher resolution screens.

 Still, the Skulls developers have improved some of the game’s assets so that they will look smoother on larger screens. The same goes for the fonts as well. The upcoming patch will also fix a number of bugs such as events failing to trigger properly.

Updates for the three versions of Skulls (Windows Phone, Windows 8, and XBLA) have already entered certification. It could take anywhere from a few weeks to a couple of months for all three updates to pass. Once that happens, the patches will roll out simultaneously across platforms.

Enter the land of the undead

Haven’t tried Skulls of the Shogun yet? Here are store links for all three versions and a QR code for Windows Phone.

QR: Skulls of the Shogun

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!

  • There is a serious lack of promotion on Windows and the Xbox so I don't find it surprising that the WP version is the best seller. Something to address.
  • What happened to Instagraph!?
  • Totally unrelated to this article....
  • Yeah, I know - but I didn't know where else I could comment. This article was totally uninteresting to me.
  • Then don't click on it, Mr. Helpful. You can always feel free to tweet individual editors or ask questions in the appropriate section of our forums though.
  • Please - I haven't done any serious damage. It is certainly related to Windows Phone news. This was a question that I really wanted an answer on, but all you guys give is just unrelated answers back.
  • Stop posting in unrelated threads then, dumbass.
  • Go to the Forums.
  • If I had asked him about Instagraph, he probably would've given me a dirty look. Since you know, he makes games.
  • Is Daniel rubbing off on you Paul? ;)
  • I personally like Paul's brand of snark better than Daniel's. Dan can occasionally come off as a bit too harsh, whereas Paul is more...sarcastic?
  • Ah, who we kiddin'? Dan AND Paul are awesome!
  • That's very kind of you to say, Poddie! :D
  • Thanks Snarky! One thing some readers might not understand is that we put a lot of heart and energy into our articles, especially the longer ones. So for a writer, it's disheartening to see off-topic comments or comments that indicate the commenter didn't read the article. Imagine if you showed somebody a painting you made and the only thing they had to say was completely irrelevant to the painting. But we're lucky in that we have lots of terrific readers who do actually care about our articles. I'm thankful to all of you. :)  
  • You're really freezing me out...
  • I don't mean to pick on you, Simen. I just wanted you guys to know why Daniel or I might get annoyed with some types of comments. You're fine so please don't take any offense. :)
  • Some testy folks today.....
  • The fact they started certification before WP8 came out and yet it took months before it was live in the stores says alot. The wait time makes people think there is no support for the platform but a big piece of the puzzle is the exaggerated approval time it takes to get games through the certification process.
  • Yea, the super long certification process, which hurts release of rapid updates, are terrible for both devs and consumers. Outside of achievements, I don't find live games compelling. I would prefer devs go the nonlive route just so they can get game updates out much faster, with less strain on the devs' resources.
  • But the best solution IMO is to revise the Xbox Live certification process and make it more reasonable.
  • "Build it and they will come."
  • I asked about the whole HD resolution thing during a Q&A held on Raptr a few weeks ago and they told me about the fonts and assets being updated so I'm just waiting on that before I buy it. A little dumb to wait perhaps but Xbox cert jars me.
  • I still need to play this at some point. They should really reduce the price of the Xbox version to match the others. Or better yet do the whole thing where if you own one version you can download them all. All this talk of HD phone resolutions on Windows 8 Phones is making me want to upgrade.
  • I seriously dislike the certification process...
  • Wow, interesting that it sold so well on WP.  I think you're right, that huge drought of games we had probably played a big role in that.  The whole "releasing at $4.99 but we'll raise the price to $6.99 later" thing probably helped, but considering that they never did actually raise the price, that feels a bit...I don't know what the right word is...not scummy, but maybe a tad misleading.
    Anyways, I have it on 360 and look forward to diving into it soon!
  • my only issue is that why should I buy it for the WP and again for the W8 and one more time for the XBOX... charge me once for access to every screen
    any way I did buy it for 2 of the 3 screens...
  • Yes, this is where I get a little unhappy about it. Could we at least get a buy 2 get 1 free deal going or something??
  • Would be nice if there was a bundle deal for all 3 versions. Hopefully Windows Blue will have redeemable codes (e.g. Xbox Live). Still, Galactic Reign's way of doing things is great -- access to multiple platforms by paying on one, and if you want multiple achievements just buy them again on other platforms.
    And why does it keep asking me to enter a word verification....
  • I love this game.. Truly amazing. :)
  • This game is awesome. I ended up buying it on all 3 platforms, since the saves sync across all systems. The only problem I've had with this game, is that I can't beat the last level. Super fun game!
  • Makes sense to me.  The WP version is cheaper and is arguably easier to play.  Playing it on the Xbox was boring to me, but I think it works really well on the phone.