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Windows Phone suffers two weeks in a row without a new Xbox game

Earlier this year, Windows Phone experienced an extended Xbox game release drought that actually began at the end of 2012. As the weeks stretched on, we became increasingly worried about the future of Xbox games on Windows Phone. The severity of the drought prompted me to write our seven-part “How Microsoft can save Xbox games for Windows Phone” series, which all Windows Phone gamers still need to read.

In February, Skulls of the Shogun basically broke the drought, though the following week there was no new release. But since then, we’ve seen a steady release of Xbox games for Windows Phone 7 and 8 from major publishers like Gameloft, Rovio, and Ubisoft. It looked like the days of drought were behind us.

Then last week we got no new Xbox release. It stung, but maybe this week would be different. Well, as far as we can tell, there is no new Xbox game this week either. Could this be the start of a new drought?

Distractions, distractions

Halo: Spartan Assault at E3 2013

Avid gamers have probably noticed that we haven’t had advance notice of an Xbox Windows Phone game in a couple of months. Remember, we usually get that information from Microsoft’s PR team. But the information dried up and nobody could tell us why. The person who supplied release data to our PR contact simply stopped doing so without explanation.

Now, we had semi-optimistically attributed the release data drop-off as being due to Microsoft’s focusing all of its Xbox Windows Phone game resources on E3 and the Xbox One reveal. But that doesn’t really make sense, because it’s not like it takes a lot of energy for the Xbox Windows Phone portfolio manager to send a simple email to the PR team. Nor was Windows Phone even present at E3 beyond Halo: Spartan Assault, so the Xbox Windows Phone staff couldn’t have been tied up with E3 preparations.

Low priority

Microsoft booth at E3 2013

No, the real cause of the lack of Xbox Windows Phone communications seems to be the same reason for the lack of releases this week, last week, and in recent times past. Microsoft just isn’t dedicating resources to Xbox Windows Phone, whether it’s acquiring new games at an adequate rate or promoting what few games they do have coming up.

They can pay rooms full of people who know nothing about videogames to come up with universally reviled DRM policies for the Xbox One and then send the most mixed and limp messages about the One and its policies as possible… But Microsoft doesn’t want to find and fund Xbox Windows Phone games or promote those games at the levels they did in 2010 and 2011. They just don’t.

Maybe I’m conflating things a bit by bringing the recent Xbox One screw-ups into the mix. And Microsoft wisely reversed their DRM policies in time to put the upcoming console on more even ground with Playstation 4 when it launches later this year. The Xbox One team and Xbox Windows Phone team are separate and very different, after all. One key difference being that we still have visible proof that the Xbox One team actually exists.

Next time’s the charm?

Age of Empires logo

Definitely not coming next week. Next year though!

Don’t let my doldrums get you down, guys. There could very well be a new Xbox Windows Phone game next week. Let’s hope so, because Xbox games are important to the success of Windows Phone. Porting Xbox games to iOS and Android (as with the recently announced mobile Age of Empires), not so important or helpful for gamers in our camp.

Top photo courtesy of

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!

  • Bah....we got halo coming in a few weeks....ill give 'em a pass until then.
  • Likewise lol, really waiting for that one.. :D
  • Break up MS...:P
  • I think WE should break up...I'm seeing someone else, bye =P
  • That escalated quickly.
  • How fast can developer code? it takes time, beside we have some pretty cool games available now, I'll be patient as well.
  • Well, if they had a sufficient number of games in the works (first and third party), there would never be a week without a release. Microsoft has the capability to ensure that scenario, but they don't spend the money to make it happen these days. Makes me sad.
  • ...but exactly how consistent are game releases on other platforms? I really don't know, so some info/comparison would help ;)
  • Xbox 360 gets 1-2 games a week throughout the year. Sometimes more if they decide to release a game on Friday as well. There may be 1 or 2 weeks throughout the year in which they skip a release, but it's very rare and never consecutive. As for iOS and Android, they don't have an Xbox equivalent. They just get top tier and low tier games all the time.
  • No offense, but you're sounding like a big baby. Sorry, Halo is coming out soon, I think we can give em a pass. Microsoft is not some infinitely large body that can do infinitely many things indefinitely. Just saying.
  • So you'd be happy with one game a month is what you're saying? Not releasing games for weeks on end is actually a good thing and shouldn't be criticized?
  • Quality over quanity. I'd rather wait a month for a top teir game, than a flood of junk.
  • A top tier game for you isn't a top tier game for everyone. Choice is important.
  • We are talking about xbox live games here, there are plenty of indie or non-xbox live games that are popping up in the store.
    Xbox Live games should be polished high production value games. Hopefully ones that are exclusive to the platform. Halo is a perfect example.
    Man you guys are a bunch of whiners.
  • But I've seen some really good 'indie' games lately... so its not a matter of demand exceeding productions and its not a quantity over quality argument.  
    Everytime I check out one of these 'indie' games, my next thought is "why isn't this an Xbox Live branded game"?  
    I think more developers are opting to avoid the headache of being 'xbox live official' , which is a problem that's been brought up numerous times for Windows Phone.
  • I don't know what quality are you talking about? asphalt or temple run. I can give you a whole list where you can find more quality and quantity of these games on other platform.I know it's good to support wp everyone is doing this. Real question is ,do we need to support MS dumb policies, MS lack of commitment?
  • Lack of commitment? Dumb policies? That's absurd.
    Those other platforms have way more games cause there are WAY MORE users. Hey, i get that you want to blame someone, but blaming Microsoft (especially with a platform exclusive mega game coming down the pipe shortly) is lunacy.
    If it's all about the games for you and your need to have a new AAA games available every week, then your more than welcome to go to iOS or Android. But make no mistake....the more robust game selection they have has nothing to do with policies or commitment.
  • The mega game which you are talking about is with microsoft since 8-10 years. Wp is 3 years old, and now microsoft is launching that game so called Halo. Also they have forza , GOW, fable among many others.Where are they?
    And blaming microsoft .. ya..
    skype support..
    xbox music
    putting all their exclusive on other platforms
    after 3 years still missing minor features(u know what they are don't want to go into that list again)
    instead of developing missing apps + exclusive xbox games, putting all their resource for other platforms to make money.
    And who are you to tell me to go to android or IOS.Are you microsoft spokesperson and ya if these things continue, people will leave.
    When I talk about lack of commitment  , I meant what exactly Paul says using xbox and exclusive games to full potential to attract users from other platform and once they are here devs will follow, that's why other platform have so many users.
  • If you are upset enough to write a rambling message like that, clearly you need to be on another platform.
  • I hope you got my message. And I can decide myself which platform is best suited for me
  • My point was not a "don't let the door hit your ass on the way out" sort of thing, but a geunine remark about maybe this isn't the right platform for you if gaming on the phone is that big of a deal to your happiness.
  • His message was a lot better than your dismissive ones. People have many legitimate gripes about WP and the gaming situation for it. Just because you're happy with the way things are, that doesn't mean everyone else has to be.
  • Wasn't this a topic about xbox live games? Funny how the complainers shanghai it into a broader gripe sesssion.
  • Honestly if gaming is more essential then the phone/internet/dailyappsthatareused then you have the wrong device I think personally.
  • 100k to get developers developing
  • Well they DO have this dev conference going on, maybe something will happen as a result? They just got the Windows 8 ball rolling again, so hopefully Windows Phone won't be too far behind. They ALSO have some MAJOR reorganization happening next week so maybe some fat will go and good meat coming in dot dot dot
  • I'm gonna buy Play Station 4 !!!! XBLA for WP sucks and XBLA for XB One also will suck !!!! that's all  this is my second windows phone my next phone will be HTC or Samsung with Android !!!
  • Not the brand new Samsung with Windows..? Awwwww... =(
  • :( dont do this Im gonna cry right now :( xD go away Fandroid Troll!
  • Well bye then. Go join the rest of them that halted the digital revolution that MS had planned.
  • I cannot wait until MS decide to do it !!! They too slow - BTW I was a fan of MS untill that kind of crappy service that they provide to us
  • The reason the Xbox One had such strict DRM on it is to process things into the Cloud FASTER than PS4, but because of all the babies, they had to slow down. Too slow? No. They're moving a little too quickly, but for a good cause (because it's harder to scratch up a downloaded game than it is to scratch up a disc). So enjoy your discs for a little while longer, but by all means - expect the DRM to be returning soon. The future's coming, are you going to cry again when it's here?
  • How does the online DRM have anything to do with the cloud processing capability? It has nothing to do with it and is still available even without the DRM. Users who don't have an active internet connection just can't take advantage of the feature at the time, but that was the same as before anyway (you only needed a connection once a day, not always on).
  • Agreed. Zulfigar seems to have misunderstood the DRM policy.
  • How could you say it sucks when it's not even out yet my friend?
  • Ridiculous... It can't be that hard for a multi billion dollar company to find one game a week for their users. Maybe if they revamped the certification process and made it easier and shorter, then more devs will try to get into it. No matter though. Zombie HQ alone will hold me for at least another week or two. :)
  • Part of the reason that the MS Store is safe and without malware is the certification process, if it was like android, but with the windows kernel, it would be disastrous.
  • I don't see the need for a new Xbox Live game every week.
    Quality over quantity.
  • Yet iOS recieves quality games two times a week.
  • Well, your problem is assuming that only Xbox Live games are quality games.
    Also, the iOS users that I know are not getting new quality games every week.
  • I agree with this.  I have about 5 XBL games on my phone I haven't even played.  4 more that I've played but not beat or really got into.  A couple more that I'm currently playing and only a couple that I've pretty much finished.
    That doesn't even address the multitude of non-XBL games I've got on my phone collecting dust because I just haven't gotten around to playing them.  I think XBL is important, but I don't think we need to freak out of we don't get a release each week or even every few weeks. 
  • Waaaaagh, there's tons of Xbox games. Anyone who's beating them at a rate to need a new one every week should get another hobby.
  • Exactly. This.
  • Why replace one hobby with another if you enjoy and can afford the first?
  • Didn't say replace, I said get another.
    If you're beating games that require you to grind the hell out of them for hours, and that's what you're spending a large enough amount of time every week doing so that you need another game the next week, you might wanna spend some time doing something else also. So that you don't need a new game every week. Cause expecting that is ridiculous. At least right now.
  • Play games on ios? Does that count? WPC could do more write ups on non xbla WP games.
  • George does plenty of indie reviews. I dabble in them but they're not my area of focus.
  • ^This^
  • I dont see it as a big deal. OS updates to me are more important than a new game every single week when Xbox360 doesn't even have that luxury
  • Are you kidding? The 360 gets one or more digital games a week. Never, ever does it go two weeks in a row without a release.
  • It sounds a bit like you're disappointed because you want WP to basically be a portable Xbox 360, and it's not. I'm not saying you're wrong to want that, but I'm not convinced that everyone shares the same expectation.
  • Everyone doesn't have to feel the same way as me. :) You can be a WP gamer and totally not care whether a game is Xbox or indie, and I won't think less of you. But the Xbox features have specifically attracted many Xbox 360 gamers, and the decline in Xbox support for WP is disappointing towards those people.
  • What happens when you have played all the games that are interesting in the store?
    Will you buy the crappy games? Will you buy the games you don't like?
    I like to play games on my phone. I had an iPhone 4 before I switched to WP8 and I've bought games for well over $500. I had shitloads of high quality games to choose from. Some of the games in the WP8 store are bad  ports from iOS and some of the games are just pure crap. Why are there so many Xbox games in the store that looks like pure shit?
    I am a graphics artist and I like games with pretty graphics.
    Why are the games more expensive than iOS games?
    Also, why are some Gameloft games running in like 10-15 fps on my Lumia 920?
    Games like that should never be released.
  • The sign in the picture should read, "No diving from platform"
  • Dude, there's great games coming now every week, XBox or not, and Halo is finally coming. Chillax.
  • A minor irritation, nothing more. I've got between twenty or thirty XBox games on my phone -- about a tenth of what's available -- and most of them I've not finished. (Actually, I suspect I've played Wordament more than all the rest of my games put together.) This supposed drought is clearly because they've currently got other fish to fry.
  • Microsoft should have a healthy pipeline of first-tier games for Windows Phone, everything from titles such as Forza, Gears of War, etc. all the way to backing neat indie ideas, popular games from other platforms, etc so we get them on WP.
  • Who needs a half-baked Xbox Live game for $3-7 when you can get Reach for the Sky for FREE? :P
  • Who cares
  • I don't care. Would rather like solid titles like the Harvest and Rocket Riot at longer interval rather than things like Doodle Jump coming faithfully each week. This is XBOX LIVE we are talking about, the premium range of Windows Phone games, the quality standard for every indie developer, the reason why people should buy a Windows Phone, not some random relatively bug-free shit to keep people busy for a week. Microsoft needs to get that Halo title delivered sooner, and get more titles like that down the road.
  • So why are really good, top quality games like Dredd Vs Zombies and Zombies HQ NOT 'Xbox Live' titles?
  • That puzzles me too. Microsoft should really stop chasing some years-old "big titles" left over from iOS and Android, and use the money to cultivate its own awesome game collection. Personally I really don't want to see any more "[fill in any long past popularity game title] finally coming to Windows Phone" news.
  • Turn in your blogger badge at the front desk please.
  • Right after you turn in your commenter badge. :P
  • Never.
  • Wow.. You're actually angry about this. Am I the only one sensing a general negativity in community for the last weeks? Did people lose the patience about WP and its mismanagement?
  • I guess you missed the 500+ outraged comments on the "MS to port games to iOS" story a few days ago.  "Am I the only one...", LOL, not hardly.
  • No I saw that story but seeing that even the authors are quite vocal about their disappointment, tells a lot. Let's face it, people who come to this site are mostly can be considered as fanboys and they're not even trying to defend WP anymore. And I admit, that was a poorly worded question :)
  • Thank you Paul for the info. Two weeks in row, don't love it...
  • This is irrelevant but, Microsoft should find some way to get Rockstar to port Gta 3 and Vice City on Windows Phone. Or maybe it wasn't irrelevant since those games are on Xbox :P
  • What is the obsession with this website and games!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I want apps!  If you need a new game every week, you need to get a life.
    They really need to fix xbox music... (hopefully BIG improvements are comming..)
    Edit:, just seen that the editor is specifically for games.  I guess it makes sense he's making a big deal about it because he has nothing to really write about...
  • There's alot of avid mobile gamers here, nothing wrong with that. I definitely agree about the Xbox music app though.
  • Do you have to chime in with that every time we criticize Xbox WP stuff? Stay on topic and don't comment on articles that don't interest you. You should be content that we asked Peter Orullian about Xbox Music at E3.
  • You really need to come down. Paul is the man when it comes to xbox games on WP. It's a huge selling point for the platform and has so much unused potential. We need somebody that keeps pushing.
  • I am calm... just wish somebody would push Xbox music to get fixed because it's something basic a phone should be able to do, and do correctly.  There are a lot of other larger problem like syncing that never gets talked about that should have been working right on day 1.
    I know updates are coming, but it doesn't sound like they are coming until the end of the year with wp8.1, unless fixing the Xbox music cloud update someone resolves all the issues with Xbox Music on the phone... I agree that pushing Xbox Games is a good thing, but that's minor IMO compared to syncing and playing music which I would think people do more of...
  • XBOne was just announced, E3 just happened, Build conference is going on now, GDR2 is getting ready for prime time, and it is the summer slump.  A perfect storm to have a lack of game releases for what is admitedly not the main priority platform at the moment.  I think we can give them some slack for a little bit until GDR2 is pushed out and released.
  • Not to mention all the great apps we had recently.
  • Forget games for now, wasn't there a rumor that we were supposed to get Instagram today?!
  • We don't care about IG after we got Instance
  • Well, I care. I want the true Instagram experience!
  • Um is anyone on Facebook here.  This was posted on the Windows Phone page today.  Yes that would be the long awaited NOVA 3!
  • That came out a few weeks ago.
  • Meh, doesn't matter to me personally. Especially with GDR2, the L925,1020 and the two new sprint WPs as well as the new flood of apps that are coming through. MS has their hands tied with certifications. I'm pretty sure that Xbox gaming on WP isn't going anywhere.
  • They plan to bring Xbox wp games to IOS and Android but they don't even support or have many Xbox games WP to port too.
  • I have to say I disagree with you with the DRM thing. I'm still angry, that I'll have to physically change DVDs... That really should be a thing of the past.
    For the Xbox WP games, I sure would like one game a week, but I'm not sure what you mean with the lack of advertising them, what should they do which they aren't doing at the moment but did before?
  • I don't blame you for liking the original DRM scheme. I would have enjoyed that aspect too. More importantly however, the greater gaming population and media absolutely hated the policies. The One would have tanked if Microsoft hadn't reversed course. I'll answer the PR question later on when I'm at a computer again. Stay tuned. :)
  • I can understand, that people see things differently with the One. I just hope they did indeed give in to the masses and not only the loudest. Btw, I just noticed this, isn't Spymouse a new Xbox WP game? Appreciate your answer and looking forward to the next one :)
  • Look at the number of views this video got alone... Not to mention the countless memes making fun of XBOX One and so on out there. I think they gave into the masses. It was their only course of action if they wanted to stand anywhere near a chance with Sony, IMO.
  • Alright, here's the article specifically about Microsoft's poor PR efforts and lack of promotion for Xbox WP:   Spy Mouse is a Nokia exclusive that became available to all Windows Phones in May:
  • Sorry about that Spy Mouse thing, I just switched to a Lumia, so I didn't see that game before but appeared in the game hub news. I'll read that article again later, thanks of course
  • No problem, Majohnny. Thank you for supporting us. :)
  • It's not about one game per week,but if they wanna say that they are working hard on WP they must focus on every sector of WP including gaming.If they want to catch up with the finests (iOS,Android) we need 3-4 releases of popular games per week. Sc**w the cerftification progress it doesnt help at anything!
  • I couldn't agree more, but there are so many places they should work on... Not saying they should ignore Xbox for WP, I'm saying they are ignoring too many things..
  • (I upgraded fron my HTC Radar to HTC 8x believing that everyone deserves one more chance.But microsoft continues the bad work in many sectors of WP!!!!If nothing changes within 2013-2014 i definitely will change platform and go for iOS or Android.MS has the "horsepower" to do a great job with WP and they are moving amazingly slow!) As for the xbox release they need to be more lax with the f****** certification progress and let every developer to apply his game to be xbox branded (something like Game Center on iOS) and instead of GS for achievments have WPGS so that the  score of achievements on WP does not interfere with the Xbox360/XboxOne score because it's not so fair! I m sure that if MS staff focus on WP instead of porting almost every MS exclusive app to Android and iOS they will achieve big things!
  • I have always been one of the biggest WP and Microsoft supporters, but I'm starting to finally think about leaving. Before I get bashed, its hard not to think this way when we dump fists loads of money into their ecosystem (Windows, Windows Phones, Surface, Xbox, Xbox Music, Xbox Video) and it seems like they use all profits from those, to spend and reward the users of iOS and Android....the same people that trash your systems. I feel like the well behaved bastard that has to sit in the corner, while mom and dad give everything to the other two siblings that are non stop being picked up by the cops.
  • Totaly agree!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • I'm guessing that the start of summer might be contributing to this. Devs need vacations too!
  • For me every 20 year 1 game on the phone is too much .
  • I game every 20 years is too much?????
  • For me yes ! games on phones for me is suffering. I used my Phone for work not for fun.
    I have a gaming PC which is the enough for me and i don't want Playstation or Xbox either .
  • Well, nobody's making you read and comment on gaming articles. And mobile gaming is a HUGE, HUGE industry, so Microsoft and other mobile platform holders would be foolish to ignore it.
  • Let me finish other games first! :P thn release.... :-)
  • After I picked up a few games, I can wait a few weeks...
  • I don't need any new I have about 35-40 most recent one I played is Bullet Asylum
  • Yeah, to busy porting games to other platforms, AAAAAAAAGH! all the money ran out that they threw at everybody for the release. Now its a stalemate!! AAAAAAAAAGH!!! your going to blow it Microsoft! AAAAAAAAAAGH. . . just AAAAAAAAAAGH!!!!!!
  • Paul, do you know if there are weekly submissions to Microsoft or not? If so is it because Microsoft has a high standard for games or they're slow in approving the submitted games?
  • Right now it seems like many developers just choose not to submit games for Xbox status because of the increased cost and development times it entails. Also, Microsoft has a very restrictive publisher requirement that forces companies like Big Fish to sign over publishing rights and part of the profits from their game if they want to get Xbox status. Publishers who have shipped retail Xbox games and some larger mobile publishers are excluded from those requirements, but they still put small-medium size mobile game developers and publishers in an awful position. Hence, they choose to publish as indie instead.
  • Suffers? *rolls eyes*
  • I could have said "enjoys," but that would conflict with the overall message of the article. ;)
  • Releases have been more frequent then they were at the beginning of the year, but I wouldn't call what we've had a steady flow. I don't consider the releases from the bigger publishers notable as they were announced nearly a year prior and too many of them suffered from poor performance and other issues. Games like Asphalt 7 have long had updates that added content we'll probably never see. Worse still, many of these already have sequels iOS and Android. iOS and Android get new games on a near daily basis. And I'm not talking about throwaway junk by unskilled amateurs, I'm talking high quality games. All that content fills in the gaps between bigger budget games from prominent publishers, and often the indie stuff is better than anything from the likes of Gameloft and EA. On top of that, at least with iOS Game Center integration is a given. Contrast that with the idiocy that is Xbox Live Certification. For a company that essentially invented the concept, Microsoft has botched the whole thing badly with Windows Phone. I've yet to see evidence that they intend on fixing this problem.  
    It's become evident that Microsoft's various divisions are at odds with each other and that the Xbox group in particular is too arrogant for it's own good. Instead of courting indie developers they keep driving them away. But it's like the left hand doesn't know what the right is doing. Why is it, for example, that when I go to the new and rising list I don't actually see new games, but instead am digging through months old crap? The only stuff that garners any kind of direct attention from Microsoft is more derivative crap from the big guys, i.e. yet another Angry Birds. Meanwhile, there have been a handful of games from relative unknowns that have yet to see more than a handful of reviews. Namely, Nun Attack, Furbos, Rufus and the Magic Mushrooms and a few others. It's a theme that's grown incredibly repetitive. I want to be positive because the OS itself is so good, but Microsoft doesn't seem nearly as enthusiastic about it as I try to be. It's getting to a point where I might just go back to Android on my next phone.
  • Yeah, what he said
  • Good point.
  • What a sad picture.
  • I'm starting to get the feeling that they are doing to Windows Phone what they did to Silverlight.  Hype it up, get people looking at it, then dump it for something else.  I just get the feeling that no one is REALLY working with Windows Phone except Nokia.
  • Everything on this platform is standing still.  Great new apps arrive, then MS releases a skype for iOS and android that aren't available on WP.  A major app finally announces something for WP, meanwhile MS releases nothing for weeks. 
    Even parts progress and regress, and not making headway. 
  • I'm not interested in Halo, I'm interested in a consistent release of quality Xbox titles on windows phone and surface. Titles like Bastion that were released for ios months ago. Ya so we will get Halo in a month or two then nothing for months. Yup that's the way to treat windows phone users a kick straight in the ass.
  • With the rumors of a restructure in Microsoft I am not surprised.
  • We can wait 1 month if they bring AOE 3
  • I really loved your seven-part “How Microsoft can save Xbox games for Windows Phone” series. I don't want to go into MS bashing, but really they don't know how to use their xbox branding name.
    As I commented in other discussion, MS is too big, but with halo announced, devs fee reduced to $19 and MS restructuring hopefully things wil be better in future
  • Thanks man! Appreciate your support. Yeah, the restructuring could certainly lead to positive changes and new policies. Here's hoping!
  • Umm, Spy Mouse for Wp8 just came out.
  • Spy Mouse is a Nokia exclusive WP game that was made available to all devices in May, more than a month ago.