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Strategy: Windows Phone is Microsoft's only solution to portable gaming

Depending on your view of things, this will either be great news or bad news--but evidently Microsoft is 100% committed in driving Windows Phone as their gaming platform, meaning we won't be seeing a "portable Xbox" system anytime soon.

According to Dennis Durkin, Microsoft’s chief operating and financial officer of the company’s Interactive Entertainment Business, who spoke with Pocket-lint recently at E3, Microsoft just does not see stand-alone portable consoles as a viable option these days:

"In a term of a dedicated handheld there are questions of the viability of that business model...""People have been asking for a long time about handhelds. It’s a really interesting time in that market. Look at the Nintendo 3DS, it’s been a slower start than analysts and others had expected, but it’s a super-competitive space. Any dedicated portable device like a camera, or a portable gaming device like the 3DS has a tough time."

Going further, Marc Whitten, corporate vice president of Xbox LIVE noted that at least on Windows Phone:

“Today on Windows Phone, Xbox Live games make up less than 1 per cent of the number of games that are on there. They are over 30 per cent of the units of the games downloaded on the phone, and they over 70 per cent of the revenue. That’s because consumers value the experience and integration of the game with Xbox Live.”

We certainly see why revenue is higher, as they charge more, a lot more in fact, than 3rd party developers. Evidently though, people are buying them, despite some issue in pricing and those broken achievements in a handful of games.

For us Windows Phone users, in our opinion this is good news as it means Microsoft will concentrate only on our platform for game development and not create an even more fragmented system (PC, Xbox, Phone and then portable console). Surely we are years from making current 360 games truly portable, so any handheld system would have to be an in-betweener Phone vs. Xbox 360. Plus, as pointed out earlier, it's all about in convergence is key here: people want one device aka "the phone" to do their games, bills, email, music, etc.

Speaking of convergence, WinRumors spoke with Microsoft about that whole Xbox 360/Kinect/Windows Phone tie in we saw months ago at Mobile World Congress: ETA is sometime "next year" as they're currently developing and testing a few games. All we know is this feature can't come fast enough.

Source: Pocket-lint; via WinRumors

Daniel Rubino
Daniel Rubino

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.

12 Comments
  • This is a BS stat, the 3DS is a niche product that didn't demonstrate enough value over its predecessor to attract sales. If WP7 Team & xbox team came out swinging with a portable that also served as a phone, with cutting edge features and VALUE, it WILL sell. I think Sony missed this chance by not making the Vita include a phone, and not making the Xperia-Play a 4g device. The simple fact is that gamers want cutting edge with out having to carry multiple devices, and there's no reason at all for a hand held gaming device to not also serve as a phone/communications device. They could literally just combine a WP with an xbox controller, throw in a hot proc and lots of memory, and it would sell. If anything, the stat about xbox games sales shows that people want a quality mobile gaming experience W/OUT having to carry multiple devices. >.
  • Well that's just it. No one wants to carry a brick the size of the 3DS around AND their phone to boot. That's already two pockets, one of which is fairly heavy. Where does you wallet go? That's also two devices you need to multitask with, whereas a phone can simply play your music and games any time, can do MORE than that even, and can play games which typically pause just fine if you have a call or text.Portable gaming systems have been getting away for a while with doing the barest minimum, slowly growing stale and out dated over a five year, cyclical process. They can't do that anymore, as phones grow every single year, and now offer similar experiences at bargain prices.
  • I disagree. We're entering into a phase where people carry everything with them in one device: usually a phone. My phone makes calls, plays music, surfs the net, writes documents, and plays games.It's cheaper to buy one device that does everything rather than multiple, separate devices for every task. When my wife and I go on a trip, between my WP7 and her iPad, there's no need for a gaming device.As a gamer, I love and miss having a device that's got a built in controller for dedicated gaming, but I can't ever justify the cost of it when when I have these other multitasking devices with me.I think the decrease in sales of devices dedicated to portable gaming and portable music shows that people are less interested in them when they have the option of an all-in-one device. Neither of these markets is dead, but they're slowing, and for good reason. When I want to play real video games, I hop on my Sbox. When I'm on the road, the cheaper/simpler games on my phone keep me satisfied.
  • I agree with their position 100%. Being the first gaming company to tie their phones to their console experience was brilliant foresight.The market IS changing. Not only is it incredibly competitive already between Nintendo and Sony, but people are less willing, it would seem, to spend such large amounts of cash on a portable device that only plays games. Especially when companies like Apple can offer the same, or similar, experiences at $1-5 vs. a DS game at $20 or more.With time, we'll probably see more devices like the Xperia Play. Xbox gamers can hope that one day Microsoft will do something similar for their own Windows Phone devices because, really, that's the future. There will be a point in time when stand-alone handhelds won't be able to compete with phones... Not unless things change for those handhelds drastically.
  • Like ipod, portable gaming devices are dimishing market. a lot of things will converge to the phone.
  • We're moving away from phones with neat add-on features, and towards all encompassing "personal devices" or ironically PDAs which kind of disappeared for awhile as a phrase. People don't want to carry two devices unless they're distinctly different (PDA and tablet/laptop), so it makes sense to focus strictly on the device you rely on daily for work and play. Everyone thought computers would get more portable, laptops would be smaller and wearable and dumb things like that. But its actually phones that are growing into that. I think the final winner might actually be 5" or so tablets and people will use bluetooth headsets, I know I would've ditched my phone if I could've called out using my Galaxy Tab.
  • Frankly my son is playing more with my Windows Phone 7 then with his 3DS. Such a shame we got him a 3DS.
  • I don't have any problems with Microsoft making Windows Phone their sole gaming platform. I too am in support of less fragmentation being a very good thing. However I would love it if they came out with some peripherals to enhance the gaming functionality of the devices. I swear Microsoft (or a third party vendor) could make a killing if they just built a controller for it. Base it off of the 360 controller but allowed the phone to be docked to it. Heck, if they didn't want a physical connection they could make it a bluetooth connected device. But otherwise throw in a supplemental battery pack for longer gaming sessions and I think it would literally be a game changer...
  • Personally (of course) I think it comes down to what type of "gamer" you are. I don't consider Angry Birds a "full feature" game. I do consider it what is known as "causal" gamers. I bought a 3DS because of the full length games that are coming out! A true gamer knows that touch screen isn't that great to play full feature games. That doesn't mean I will take my 3DS everywhere it just means I can play causal games on my phone to kill like two minutes of time! I doubt you can get a good story like Resident Evil: Revelations on a phone.
  • That depends really. There are a number of fully flashed out titles for the iPhone or iPad. Nothing that would compare to Revelations yet (unless you maybe look at Dead Space), but... I think that's just the point. Eventually those kinds of games will be available on a phone platform with greater frequency. I mean look at this:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=es2iEHKUrG8&feature=relatedThat's what the Samsung Galaxy 2 is capable of.It's only a matter of time before standalone handhelds become unnecessary. I was kind of laughing internally while the PSVita was being shown off during e3. Almost every single feature Kaz hyped has been present in phones for three years now. They're not even using Super AMOLEDs! It's a first gen OLED!
  • all they really need to do is to start support cross platform on the freaking phone and arcade games, i would love to play on my cell at work with my Friend at home!! you know what mean jelly been.... so basically allow cross platform playing ( witch is easy and very much possible to do ) and add a little 3d screen for kicks ,, and id Much rather have 1 phone in my pocket , then a phone n ipod AND a DS ,, i dont need 3 700$ device in my pocket ... lol
  • I agree with everyone saying the WP7 is enough on it's own. Yeah maybe a controller for it would be cool, but if there was another Microsoft portable console then I'd never have any time to play the games on the WP7. If I want to play a game with a proper story etc I'll play a retail game. If I'm away from home and just want a gaming fix or to earn a few achievements, the Windows Phone will serve that purpose just fine for me.