Skulls of the Shogun now a universal Windows game – Will more titles follow?

Universal game purchases have long been one of the most requested features from avid Windows Phone gamers, right behind SD card support (at last!) and more Xbox games (no luck yet). Already popular on iOS, the universal app concept allows users to buy a game or app once and then play it on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT.

Yesterday Microsoft and 343’s Halo: Spartan Assault officially became the first universal app on Windows Phone and Windows 8. It turns out that several more Windows Phone/Windows 8 Xbox games also went universal alongside Halo. Most are technically free and thus the universal label is more symbolic than anything. But another paid game is now universal as well: Skulls of the Shogun from 17-BIT. Head past the break for more details and word on which mobile Xbox games still need to go universal!

Skulls of the Shogun

Skulls of the Shogun

Skulls originally launched on Windows Phone, Windows 8/RT, and Xbox 360 as three separate purchases. Gamers who wanted to play it on all three platforms had to shell out a whopping $30 in total for the privilege. The price of each version dropped over time however, with the total cost of all three versions ringing up at $20 just prior to yesterday’s universal app switch.

Great as the universal app concept is for consumers, it’s still not supported by the Xbox 360 and Xbox One ecosystems. Thus buying the universal version of Skulls of the Shogun only gets you the Windows Phone and Windows 8/RT game, not the Xbox 360 version. Nor does a purchase of Spartan Assault on phone and tablet include access to that game’s Xbox 360 and Xbox One versions. Still, the switch to universal app status for Skulls means players can buy the mobile version and the 360 one for $15 total now, assuming they want that console access.

Skulls of the Shogun is a turn-based strategy game set in a fantasy version of medieval Japan. The story-base single-player campaign spans 20 stages and offers multiple difficulty levels. The campaign’s writing is some of the best you’ll find in a strategy title, mobile or otherwise. Expect plenty of twists and humor in the tale of an undead general’s journey to find his own killer.

Strategy games usually excel in multiplayer though, and Skulls is no different. All three versions support asynchronous competitive multiplayer in the “Skulls Anywhere” mode. Even better, Windows Phone, 8/RT, and Xbox 360 can all play against each other! Skulls Anywhere games support up to four players and are tons of fun… But it’s too easy to forget when you have a turn due to the phone game’s lack of Live tile support.

Check out our full review for lots more Skulls of the Shogun gameplay and cross-platform details!

Get the game

Implementation of universal app purchases in the Windows ecosystem is still awkward at the moment. According to reader reports, users must be running Windows Phone 8.1 and then purchase the Windows 8 version of the game first. After that, you should be able to download the phone game from your Windows Phone 8.1 device without having to repurchase it. Hopefully the Windows 8 Store gets updated soon to allow purchases in the reverse order as well!

  • Skulls of the Shogun – Windows Phone 7 and 8 – 57 MB – $4.99 (universal) – Store Link
  • Skulls of the Shogun – Windows 8 and RT – 136 MB – $4.99 (universal) – Store Link (opens in new tab)
  • Skulls of the Shogun – Xbox 360 – 207 MB – $4.99 (not universal) – Store Link (opens in new tab)

QR: Skulls of the Shogun

More universal games and games that should be



Along with Halo: Spartan Assault and Skulls of the Shogun, a few other Microsoft-published Xbox Windows Phone/Windows 8 games are now universal apps as well. You can identify a universal app by the “Made for Windows Phones and Windows PCs” text displayed on its Store page.

  • Hexic
  • Microsoft Mahjong
  • Microsoft Minesweeper
  • Microsoft Solitaire Collection
  • Wordament

Several more Xbox games could benefit from the universal app treatment. Here are a few we’d like to see:

  • AlphaJax (free already)
  • Angry Birds series
  • Asphalt 7
  • Babel Rising 3D
  • Bejeweled Live
  • Cut the Rope
  • FIFA 14
  • Fragger
  • Fruit Ninja
  • iStunt 2
  • Jetpack Joyride
  • Kingdoms & Lords (free already)
  • Monster Island
  • Rabbids Big Bang
  • Rayman Jungle Run
  • Rayman Fiesta Run
  • Shark Dash
  • Shuffle Party (free already)
  • Six-Guns (free already)
  • Throne Together (free already)
  • UNO & Friends (free already)

The switch from two separate purchases to universal status would require action from those games’ various publishers: Electronic Arts, Gameloft, Halfbrick, Miniclip, Rovio, Ubisoft, and (in a few cases) Microsoft. I doubt most of them will choose to change payment models, but you never know!

Galactic Reign

Galactic Reign

Note that poor Galactic Reign was conceived as a universal game prior to its delisting. Players could purchase one version and play the other. But the Windows Stores didn’t recognize it as a universal purchase, and you couldn’t earn Achievements in the version you didn’t know. But now Galactic Reign is gone, a failed experiment from some tiny part of Microsoft Studios that was truly ahead of its time.

Paul Acevedo

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!

  • Come on Asphalt 7!!! Posted via the WPC App for Android!
  • Not sure but never bought asphalt 7 on my phone and I downloaded it yesterday. I downloaded the game on PC. Not really sure
  • Another game where I bought both versions just to show support, glad this is happening.  Hopefully they'll add Xbox One soon as I could use more games there.
  • I tried downloading this game on my desktop but the only version I can download is the lite version... Same for Halo. Anyone know why?
    Going thru the articles that I missed right now.
  • Wow.. Nice
  • Has i asked before: i bought Halo(and this one) on my WinRT, but they dont appear in my WP8 list. I am in Portugal, so do i have to wait a while?
  • Try going yo the app page and try installing from there, worked for me for Halo, I had bought it in win rt
  • You need to be running WP 8.1 for this to work as it has a newer version of the store.
  • Yea u need 8.1 and when u do u click buy and it says u already own it
  • They don't automatically appear in the installed app list. Go install it from the store and when prompted to pay you'll be greeted by a message saying you own it already.
  • Amazing was released for Windows 8??
  • Whoops. No it was not.
  • :)
  • Hexic is universal although its free
  • That explains why we list it in the article. :-\
  • Oh, sorry about that
  • Awesome! I love this game! :D
  • So glad to see they have finally put this into place. Now give me the Xbox support as well and I'll be really happy. Even if that makes the overall price go up a little.
  • Anyone that bought Halo when it first came out on the phone able to get it in the windows 8 store for free?
  • Want to know this as well. I have it for my phone and Xbox One, but want it on my tablet.
  • That's what a previous article mentioned however the only version I can download is the lite version... Doesn't seem right
  • Who bought some of these apps on one device won't need to buy again on any other device. Let me see it in practice.
  • This title is misleading. Skulls of shogun isn't "universal" in that it was written for both platforms using the same code base, but it's just that these are "better together".
  • Universal apps, buy once install everywhere (PC and phone) To quote the first paragraph "Universal game purchases have long been one of the most requested features from avid Windows Phone gamers, right behind SD card support (at last!) and more Xbox games (no luck yet). Already popular on iOS, the universal app concept allows users to buy a game or app once and then play it on both Windows Phone and Windows 8 and RT."
  • Wrong. A universal app is an app that you code once and run everywhere. Simply buying an app once and have it run everywhere is called being "better together". There's an entire section in the stores for apps like them. You can quote as much of the article as you want, but that still doesn't change the definition of what a universal app is.
  • Doesn't look like all the "better together" apps are universal (They are missing universal symbol).
  • It is true that the situation is rather different on iOS, but that's becuase Apple only makes iPods (well, and Macs) and they come in all different sizes and sometimes with a phone in them.  On iOS, universal apps include two different interfaces that switch depending on screen size. But the idea behind the universal app is that it'll work on small and on big screens, with an interface optimzed for each one.  That's what's happening here, too. "Better together" is something else entirely.  That's when one app adds complementary functionaly to another one. Perhaps we need new terminology to descriminate apps that run universally on the same back end (which is where MS is hoping to go) and those that are just buy once, run everywhere -- even if coded seperately -- but that's what even MS is calling universal apps.  So, the term is correctly used here.
  • Doesn't universal app make developer profit down ? No?
  • They can re-price it. Plus I am sure the developer has a say in it, before Microsoft makes it universal.
  • Sort of... Unless they sell a lot more games as a result of offering the game universally.
  • Many people have been waiting for this and some will not buy until it's universal. Profit can come in many ways, you can sell few but expecsive items (like Mac) or sell many low priced items (Like some PC's). Making a game purchase universal may get more people interested and overall developers can earn more. As I understans it an app can be universal in two ways, they can link togheter their current W8 and WP apps as one in the store and only selling it once OR they can create an app or game for both Windows 8 and WP as the same project from the start with minor differences for the different machines and it would be more appropriate to sell it only one for all Windows OS.
  • Skulls isn't optimized for the full HD display of my 1520...quite a few apps aren't yet. Slightly annoying!
  • Windows Phone 7 games like Skulls will always run at 480 x 800 resolution; that's the limit of the OS they were created for. Xbox WP games in general barely get updated anyway, so I doubt many will ever get the full HD treatment.
  • Yeah, bit of a bummer really!
  • A lil' off topic (not related to skulls), but I bought Halo on WP when the red stripe deal hit, still don't have it listen as bought in Windows 8.1, asks me to purchase it again. Any ideas on how to get past this without paying again?
  • Skulls isn't universal at all. I have it on WP but I just checked on my Surface and it is asking for me to pay again.
  • I expect you will have to purchase it from this day on to get a universal licence
  • I think the Windows 8 store needs get an update, it does not show the new "universal app" icon, you can see it if you visit for the game.  I bought Halo on Windows 8 when it was on sale a week or two ago and after upgrading to Windows Phone 8.1 I got the game without paying for it twice. At the moment it seems that you must buy it on Windows 8 and you can then install it on WP 8.1. Don't forget, universal apps (part of WP 8.1) is not official for the ordinary user yet.
  • i bought skulls on my phone ages ago, surface pro seems to still be asking me to pay running lumia 820 8.1 (dev preview) Surface Pro 8.1 update 1
  • It's asking me to pay too.
  • Same here. Bought skulls day one on WP but the w8 store says £££
  • This is great news! More should follow. Waiting for Gameloft to release heroes of chaos and for there mmo to be on surface.
  • It still shows up as costing money for me (US) am I missing something..?
  • In the W8 store or the WP8.1 store? Right now it does seem like it's only the WP 8.1 store that is up to date with universal app. So buy from W8 and install for free on WP 8.1 (currently only for two games).
  • I bought it almost a year ago on WP.. :-(
  • Skulls of the Shogun is still one of the absolute best games on Windows Phone. I love this game!!
  • It's asking for money on my SP2. Paid for it when I used a Windows Phone. 
  • I ended up paying $5 again for Halo on Win8.  I bought Halo back in August, and then tried to buy it on Win 8 yesterday and was charged anyway.  Yes, I knew I was taking a chance on it, I probably should have waited for actual users to say it was working before trying. I did attempt to contact MS customer service, just to see what they say... and they have no idea.  They said I was charged again because I bought the game on WP8 first... then attempted to push me off onto Xbox Live support if I wanted to inquire more.  What does Xbox Live support have to do with Windows universal apps?
  • They are Xbox Live enabled apps
  • Just because you purchased the game in aug doesn't mean it becomes universal automatically. You needed to purchase the game when it was universal.... $5 big deal 1 less beer :)
  • Ah yeah... I'm not whining about $5.  Just relaying my experience, since others are asking AND there's other comments/forums where people are telling other to go complain to MS customer service.  I'm saying don't bother and don't do it if the person wants the universal app version.   And I totally accepted that I bit the bullet and took a chance knowing full well I might be paying another $5.   But between the articles prior to our comments, along with the user comments in all universal apps articles, you are the FIRST person to say "You needed to purchase the game when it was universal."   Even MS customer service didn't have the time or clarity to explain it that simply.   I also know this is talking out the other side of my mouth since I started off by saying I don't mind paying the $5 again... but it is kind of worth mentioning that I originally paid $7 for the WP8 version.  So I've paid $12 what other people get to pay $5 for.  But that gets real close to people who whine about sales or apps that become free later, and so its hypocritical of me to point that out. Really though, not complaining, just sharing my experience.
  • I wasn't able to test the experience for myself because I already owned all mobile versions of both games that switched to universal. I'll try to remember to stipulate that it needs to be bought after the switch in the future though.
  • Oh, actually I'm hearing that it applies to retroactive purchases - but so far, only if you bought the Windows 8 version first.
  • This is a good step in the right direction but still needs to include xbox one (and possibly xbox 360) or the '3 screens and a cloud' vision is still incomplete.
  • My only concern, they'll price games higher and say 'Well you can use it on multiple devices'. Games that are free on other platforms are often as high as £3.99 on Windows Phone (Plants vs Zombies as an example, free on IOS and Android and they're on number 2!)
  • The first Plants vs. Zombies is actually a paid app on both iOS and Android. The WP version does cost more though. PvZ 2 however was conceived as a free to play title from the start. If EA ever brings it to WP, it will be free to play as well (FIFA 14 and Sims FreePlay are proof enough). I agree that universal apps might end up costing more in some cases.
  • I'd love to see PvZ 2 on WP8. As for the theme of this article, the one game you didn't put on your list of games that would be awesome to see in the 'better together' purchase once, play twice setup is FIFA 14 for WP/W8/WRT. Soon as that happens I'll gladly spend the $5 for the unrestricted version of the game.
  • Oh yeah, I forgot about the Windows 8 version of FIFA. Sucks that it lacks controller support!
  • But what if i bought it first on my phone? I tried downloading on the computer and it asked me to buy it again.
  • Dodonpachi pleeeeease.
  • I am guessing this will be a "from here on out" type of thing.  It would be cool if people like me who purchased it forever ago on WP would get it for free on W8 but I doubt it.
  • Maybe well see ea franchises that were discontinued on pc return
  • Love this
  • One step closer to "truly" universal app structure where devs can code games/apps that will be easily published on all Windows platforms for a single price, and also share cloud based settings and such.  Pay once, download from any source (Win, WP, Xbox), and the cloud feature will follow across devices.  Keep moving forward MS!
  • Cool we have the same Surface cover? Is that a coincidence? Or is there only one decent cover out there for the surface!
  • It's certainly the best one available IMO! :)
  • Cool
  • So we could hopefully see Gameloft becoming less lazy and publishing some of their older titles on Windows Store as universal apps (Modern Combat 4, N.O.V.A 3, etc?)
  • So from what I gather in the comments, is that if you bought the game on Windows Phone when it first came out, you are not eligible for the Windows 8/RT version for free because you have to have bought it on one or the other once it's "universal"? I bought Skulls ages ago on WP8 and it's still saying it's a paid app in the Windows 8 Store. Using my Asus Transformer Book T100
  • I bought it on WP7 and Xbox 360. Not seeing it either.
  • I don't think it applies to retroactive purchases. I already own the win8 and Xbox one versions. I have wp8.1 on my icon and it's asking for $4.99 for the wp8 version.
  • It does apply to retroactive purchases. However like it was mentioned in the article, you can only currently get the winphone version for free. The win 8 store needs updated for it to work. So even if you buy WP version today or a year ago, it wont work for W8 version. I know a few people that grabbed win 8 version mnths ago and were about to get WP version now for free.