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Wordament heads to iOS with Achievements - what that means for Windows Phone

Alright, so Nokia has a good grasp on what the word exclusive means. But Microsoft takes a more liberal stance towards supporting other platforms. We’ve seen the big MS publish previously Xbox Windows Phone exclusive games to iOS before, such as Kinectimals and Tentacles. It always hurt, but we sucked it up and complained only in small doses.

Yesterday, another exclusive turned coat and migrated to iOS: Microsoft’s own Wordament. I had previously speculated that Wordament could function as a killer app, attracting gamers to Windows Phone with its highly addictive gameplay and smart design. That will no longer happen, but here’s the really bad news: Wordament on iOS (opens in new tab) is an Xbox Live title complete with real Achievements!

Migrating Achievements

Wordament iOS Xbox Live login

Yes, Wordament has become the first game on a non-Microsoft platform with Xbox Live Achievements. Sure, it only offers 50 GamerScore worth of Achievements as opposed to the Windows Phone and Windows 8 versions’ 200 GamerScore, but it’s only a matter of time until that 50 GS limit rises to 200 GS.

Maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by this move. After all, during the Wordament presentation at Casual Connect Seattle, Microsoft’s Alex Navarro basically hinted at this future when answering the following questions from an audience member:

Q: “When integrating a mobile game with Xbox Live, is that a Windows-only solution?”

  • A: “It is right now, but it won’t be for very long.”

Q: “You’re bringing functionality [from] the Xbox to mobile?”

  • A: “Absolutely. The same people who engage on the console are the same users who have the Live account who engage on the mobile titles. We find there’s a great deal of migration between the separate screens.”

At the time, I hoped that he was just stringing along the attendant iOS and Android developers with deliberately vague answers. But the iOS version of Wordament was likely already in development. Knowing that Xbox Live Achievements would spread to competing mobile platforms, Navarro’s encouragement was subtle but honest.

Cross-platform boggling

Wordament iOS screens

iOS screenshots from

Wordament is also the first Xbox Live game with cross-platform multiplayer. iOS players compete against Windows Phone and Windows 8 players in real-time, trying to find as many words as possible during each round. Existing Wordament players who sign in on an iPhone or iPad will see all of their existing Xbox Live Friends and frenemies. Presumably, stats and rankings carry over as well.

Now, I can’t rally against this feature because if you’re going to port Wordament, of course you want everyone to play against each other. The ability to play the same game simultaneously with non-WP friends is alluring. A fair chunk of Wordament’s appeal is seeing so many other players sharing the same experience and comparing your own results against theirs.

On the Xbox 360, Microsoft has long opposed cross-platform multiplayer of any kind, even when developers wanted it. That’s why Playstation 3 and PC players can enjoy Portal 2 together, but Xbox 360 players cannot. Hopefully Wordament is proof of a new stance on that well-liked feature from Microsoft.

Why WP needs exclusives

Wordament photo

Wordament, we used to be proud of ya!

Now, every time we complain about the loss of an exclusive, somebody hops in and responds that they hate exclusivity and that Windows Phone doesn’t need exclusive apps and games. And let’s face it; Windows Phone exclusivity is bad for some people: iPhone and Android users who have no plans to switch to WP and don’t want to be incentivized to make that switch. For them, every little thing that makes Windows Phone look better is a curse instead of a blessing.

But let’s remember that Windows Phone continues to be an underdog platform. Android and iPhone have a huge lead, both in market share and the public mindset, which makes it hard for Windows Phone to compete on even ground. For Microsoft’s scrappy little mobile OS to win over new users, it needs features, apps, and games that those users can’t get anywhere else. Why else would an average Joe give up the iPhone he already owns hundreds of games on and throw in with Microsoft?

MS, I find your lack of faith disturbing

Wordament iOS screens

The offending Achievements

Make no mistake; Wordament popping up on iOS with Xbox Live Achievements is a vote of no confidence in the Windows Phone platform from someone at Microsoft. In case you didn’t know, Microsoft is comprised of multiple teams housed in separate buildings, each one responsible for its own little niche in the company’s business. These teams have little incentive to cooperate with each other when they’re not forced to do so by senior management. In fact, even within a team employees actually compete with each other in various ways, but that’s a story for another day.

So the situation is that many portions of Microsoft simply don’t care whether Windows Phone lives or dies. They’re just concerned with turning a profit for their divisions rather than helping out a floundering mobile division.

That’s exactly why:

  • We still don’t have a mobile (and exclusive) Halo or Forza game (two of Microsoft’s strongest console game brands).
  • Microsoft doesn’t just throw money at big developers to get them to bring big name games to WP even though they could afford it a thousand times over.
  • We got no new Xbox games for two weeks within the last two months.
  • There are exactly two Xbox Windows Phone 8 games after two months of the new OS’s availability.

Appearances matter

Don’t think this is the end of days for Windows Phone or that I’m ready to jump ship over Microsoft’s mixed signals. But you know, not everyone understands Microsoft’s divisive nature. They look at the big MS publishing games and bringing Xbox Live to iOS and they see a company that doesn’t believe in its own mobile platform.

You will never catch Apple releasing one of their hot products for Windows Phone, nor Sony bringing their games to the Xbox 360. They’re focused on making their own products succeed, not competing against themselves. If only Microsoft would show the same solidarity and commitment to their brilliant Windows Phone platform.

Play it anyway

Wordament for Windows 8

Windows 8/RT version

All implication aside, let’s not forget that Wordament is simply a fantastic word game. It did make our list of 5 Must Have Xbox Games, after all. And just look at our review!

Wordament, much like Boggle, involves trying to find as many words as possible from a field of 16 letters, all within a time limit. The hook? You’re competing against hundreds of others in real-time over the internet. Rounds last for a couple of minutes. Once they end, you get to see how you compared against everyone else, and then the next round starts a few seconds later.

Some rounds have hidden themed words and digrams (words that use a specific combination of two letters) to find as well. You can also add specific players to your Frenemies list and keep track of how you stack up against them. It’s all incredibly addictive.

Wordament is free and supported by ads on all platforms. Seeing as how each version counts as a separate game Achievement-wise, GamerScore fiends might as well play every version they can. I'd certainly be tempted to if I had an iDevice!

Get each version of Wordament with the following store links:

Update: Check out sister site iMore's impressions of the iOS port. It sounds a little rough compared to our version, but those kinks will surely be smoothed out over time.

Update 2: As it turns out, the iOS version was developed by Babaroga, makers of Zombies!!!, Shuffle Party, and several other Windows Phone games.

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!

  • Windows Phone. Doomed.
  • It feels that way.  My immediate reaction to this is "these guys really don't know what they're doing".  Where the benefit is of releasing on other platforms Microsoft content boggles my mind.  They gave everyone OneNote, they're in the process of giving everyone Office, and now Wordament on other mobile platforms!  This is disgusting.  Exclusives give reasons to jump to a platform.  Offering them as multiplatform lets people keep comfortable on their current platform.  Microsoft hasn't learned how to do mobile well, yet.  If they were smart, they'd pull the plug on Office and Wordament.  If not, at least make them pay $4.99 for Wordament and $14.99 for Office on mobile to get extra cash to throw into other projects.
  • Add to it that iPhone users probably won't have to pay XBOX Gold membership and you'll understand why I feel ripped off by Microsoft as a XBOX user.
  • Personally I think they should put it on Android aswell... Have it the only game on iOS and android to have achevments and i can garenty that people that own an xbox and an iphone or android, and are achevment hogs, have to add that, will go out and get a windows phone... I know a few people who make it their mission to get 100% or as close as in xbox achevments for all their games... come to think of it all those people used to be nintendo heads who stopped argueing when the Wii came out and will still tell you they are waiting on a good nintendo console to show everyone else how its done as they stare into a game of gears of war on the 19th hour of straight play... Some of you might be here now.......... How many achevments u got on ur WP device?
    If you know anyone like this that does not own a windows phone.... tell them your going to catch up on their gamer score at work 100 and 200 at a time straight off your phone..... they will not be able to resist......
  • I have a friend who has a android phone and tab, but will be buying my Lumia 900($100) when my 920 arrive, just for Xbox Live
  • WTF is going on.... 1st zombie run now this... It's a dark day for WP and MS is not helping WP needs new management ASAP!
  • What? You don't need an Xbox LIVE Gold account to get achievement on ANY Microsoft platform. My sister never had a LIVE account at all, but made a Silver one for her Lumia 822. I'm not sure what wacko planet you're on.
  • So, what? You still missed my point!
  • What was your point? Why would iPhone users not have to pay for gold?
  • You don't have to be a gold member to earn achievements.
  • I believe when Office comes to iOS and Android, you'll need a Office 365 subscription to use them.
  • Xbox games and Xbox music pass are the reasons I have a Windows Phone 8 device right now and have moved over from iOS and Android. It would be a shame for people like me to loose our incentives.
  • Xbox music is coming to iOS 
  • I know its a free game. The question is will this expand to paid games? Will people who have jailbroken iPhones be able to get games and achievements free???
  • yep, it seems like Windows is going towards the end specially when Nokia has backstabbed Microsoft to choose Android for their upcoming tablet.
  • Yeah, right, your source is 110% reliable...
  • Yea that article was a pretty poor pice of speculation. It claims that Nokia is "clearly" going to make an android tablet and the only reasons it gives are Windows RT sucks and Nokia hired a linux engineer (Which they already confirmed was for mapping software).
  • Lol Microsoft doesn't even have faith in its platform
  • So that's what you got out of that huh?  Sad, just sad. :(
  • Sad but true. If you didn't get that from reading this, maybe you should read it again. Microsoft has indeed lost faith in windows phone. And frankly, so have I.
  • That sucks. 3 of my friends loved this game so much that they were planning to get a windows phone replacing their iPhones. Now I guess they won't.
  • Just don't tell them... Lol.
  • i hate ms for this
  • Agreed.
  • I kind of think that line of thinking is a should try to put their software everywhere.... I would personally want Xbox music all over android and ios... Best way to grow... And much better service....they can play with pricing a bit though to finance other projects...
  • What you're suggesting is not the best way to grow Windows Phone's market share.
  • +100
  • +1000
  • Sadly it's soon going to be time for me to say goodbye to win phone... This doesn't matter to me, but it points to the bigger issue and problems WP will never overcome.
  • Thing is, I stay for the modern UI and live tiles, not the games.
  • me too, also the integration with my work place office apps
  • Those will be available for the other mobile platforms shortly as well.
  • I too stay for these reason, however I would like a notification hub, NOT like andriod with a drop down menu how about we slide our right right, and the notifications are on the left of our live tiles, in a list like our apps are on the right?
    This was Toast noficiation missed with Apps with no tile count would never been over seen. - I WOULD LOVE to see the Peoples hub have Toast noficiation as well as tile count.
    Games - WP was never about games for me.
  • I don't stay for games wither, in fact I don't even have this game. As I said...bigger problem... Microsoft makes the other platforms happier first, their own last. I love the UI and I love Office on my phone, but apps are jumping ship, cross platform apps are better elsewhere...
  • I'm with you. Already switched. Not enough apps and cool games(like dead trigger and shadowgun for eg.)
    And with MS giving away their"exclusives" to other platforms why stay?(unless you're obsessed with the metro UI).
  • why are you even here then? Why are you on WPCentral?
  • I'm still here too, and I've also already jumped ship.  I'm still here daily hoping for good news but in the end I moved to Android as I await the apps I need.   I've considered moving back, but the best solution I can personally see for me is a 920 and a Nexus 7 tablet to give me access to the apps I need.
    I still root for WP, but it sure looks gloomy.
  • +1
  • This gloom and doom is unfounded. WP is strong on all fronts after only 7 weeks on the market. You guys who jumped ship (Android? Really) don't care about the experience and you "root for WP"?  what on earth is that? I want to burn iOS and Andriod with fire. If you have jumped ship you're a turncoat. Join Android Central or TheVerge. We really don't want or need those who have lost faith here spreading FUD.
  • "fanboy rant"
  • I hate what this site has become. WP fanboys ARE THE MOST ARROGANT of the lot.
  • Fanboys period anywhere going to go where I feel I will have the best experience. I came to WP thinking that. I think I was wrong so I may move on.
  • i agree but not all fans of the platform are zealots. i just honestly like windows phone. its a shame to see microsoft outsourcing all of the things that make their platform unique to other platforms. But its like the article said most of the divisions at microsoft work independantly from eachother. So while it hurts to watch exclusives go it wasnt really microsoft as one entire entity that made such a decision. for those in this comment thread called turncoats its understandable why you left as one of my friends left for the same reason, just ask that we arent all categorized as zealots. thanks
  • then what the hell are you still here for? You're free to leave.
  • I'll leave when I'm good and ready... :D
  • I wasn't replying to you.
  • hey @The_All_Blacks bro i understand your defending wp and by all means do so but how can we convince people of the good qualities of wp when theres constant arguing amongst ourselves. this is a bad thing and people are reacting accordingly. lets just get along :) everyone apologizes and we forget about this argument. and btw wp is not for grandmothers lol, as difficult as this may be for some people to absorb not everyone feels the need to have a gazillion apps. :P
  • I fueled the troll and that's my mistake, but we aren't arguing amongst 'ourselves'. I hate that I stay away from Android and iPhone sites because I have nothing to say about them and they are of no interest to me, but the shills don't have the common decency to do the same. 
  • You want to burn Android and iOS with fire?  Wow, calm down. 
  • Wow, gangbanger mentality rears its head in the mobile os world again. I've been with WP since day one, but I'm also thinking of jumping ship now too. These type of moves do indeed point to a much larger problem within Microsoft. I may abandon their products all together. Why support them when we're obviously an afterthought, not a priority.
  • You've got to see the bigger picture rather than just focusing on WP. MS doesn't have a problem and to think that you'd abandon the platform all together  shows that you don't understand and I'm not saying that attack or bait you, but MS is shifting everything to the cloud and that involves integrated services and device agnostic services. MS upgraded it's entire portfolio of products in 2012, all 12of it's billion dollar divisions have gone through major transformations and it's going to transition into 2013 with Office.  there's plenty more to look out for and it's a great time to be invested in the MS ecosystem which is arguably the strongest in the world) and still working hard to improve  and allowing the end user experience to be that much more meaningful. We  all want to see more weight behind WP, but there are priorities that, in the grand scheme, are more important than WP at the moment. Have some faith.
  • I don't think you get it. If Microsoft is putting all it's services on other platforms then what's the reason to buy a Windows Phone? If someone can have the ecosystem of IOS and Android AND Microsoft's services then why not go there instead of staying with WP?
  • UX, differentiation, hardware and inegration. The First Class experience. These are the reasons that will drive WP ahead and of course new apps, not rehashes of what other OSes already have. 
  • creating all new ways to interact with ones content is where MS is headed. The number of apps is gotten to the point where it doesn't matter and way overblown.
  • Why do you say apps don't matter when it obviously does as it's a indicator of how healthy an ecosystem is. If this market was all about look then ya WP should be on top but they're not. As for first class experience i have a WP7 as well as an Android phone and Xbox and smartglass apps are about the same. The SkyDrive apps isn't noticeably better on WP so the the experience is pretty consistent across all platforms. If all they're looking for is to sell their services then they don't need a phone and can just provide the service to the top two platforms. They've rebooted Windows Mobile and now Windows Phone so bow many cracks do they need to do things right? There's still issues with WP hardware and mine got bricked doing a factory reset so it's not like they've learned their lessons.
  • Also, MS is putting all of its services on it's OWN cloud Service which is Azure and these apps allow any device to access the information. 
  • Apple did it with the iPod and iTunes and then people started buying Mac's. It's the Halo effect and I guess we'll find out if it works with software too.
  • I like how Microsoft is trying disseminate content to all phone users regardless of "loyalty" or this entitlement belief that because you use a certain device you should be rewarded with certain perks and they are somehow the bad guys.  I don't agree that this has anything to do with Microsoft feeling that Windows Phone isn't a priority, I feel it has more to do with grabbing as much market share as possible for their products regardless of platform!  If you don't like the Windows experience and the phone as a whole then use a different device, imo Windows Phone is enough of a carrot on its own, unique hardware, great features, simple and beautiful UI, it is just a great device.  Who cares if iPhone and Android users can have some of their apps, I would like some of theirs and wouldn't expect them to complain at Google or Apple for letting us have content.
  • Then they don't really need their own device to do all that do they if they're just going to be a service provider. What incentive is there to stay with WP besides the UX? I'm sorry but that may be ok for some people but not the masses which is why they're struggling. Google and Apple are not putting apps on WP and that's the problem while MS is giving them everything.
  • Exactly Welve. I would like to say that maybe, just maybe if Live takes off on other platforms that means more development for WP users. Think about it. Wouldn't this get other developers to want to make live games for ios and then of course be easily ported or put on WP first?
  • That's a good idea because I have a 920 and I use my galaxy 4.0 player for any apps I may want.
  • Really?... What exclusives does android have that ios doesn't or comparables and vice versa that make a people choose one over the other????.......its a mood point...WP8 needs to succeed on its own as a better OS, and more app support......
  • all i was saying was and i agree with the_all_blacks on this point. the selling points for microsofts mobile os is its unique approach to the mobile game. i feel if devs gave the people the apps wanted on windows phone you would see a huge leap from android and ios to windows phone, because i feel that the unique nature of windows phone the aesthetically pleasing sight of the live tiles, emphasism on information as opposed to polish and absolute integration with the products are what make the windows phone platform a viable solution.
  • Let me explain. Microsoft divisions don't care about each other. Office doesn't give shit to WP, neither Xbox. It's like they're different companies.
  • I am pretty sure WP is currently part of the Entertainment and Devices Division along with Xbox.
  • MS is going to be a device agnostic company. "Devices and Services". This shouldn't be a surprise to anyone.
  • which they have always been. microsoft has always been a software company first and foremost.
    office is already on macs right? 
  • You're right, sir. Has been since the beginning.
  • Then why have their own platform if they can just develop for iPhone and Android? What's the point of fighting a losing battle?
  • what losing battle? As long as WP continues to gain market share, which it has compared to this point last year, it's always a win. They don't have drive iOS and Android to the brink for WP to be successful.
  • If you think for a second that Microsoft thought that their current market share is all they were going to get when they first launched WP then you're delusional. Even getting up to 10% is a failure as I'm sure they thought they could be competitive in this space and they're not even close.
  • That's why you should stick to playing risk and let others do management decisions... Really????
  • What are you guys talking about , so that means good doesn't have faith on android, no is business, ppl will switch to wp8 cuz is different, cuz is unique and better looking and to me easier to used , Microsoft need to focus more in bringing the apps we missing so we can be even with that , and ppm make their choices base on what they like more . But that being said if I don't get all the apps I need , temple run , instagram , flipboar , auto trader, and few more , this Lumia 920 will be the last piece of my money ,Microsoft will see with windows phone .
  • A plataform can't survive w/o all social network these days, phones are about people moreover. The lack of Instagram killed Windows Phone for many of my friends. If BB10 launches with it that will show how incompetent MSFT was.
  • I agree completely, that's why my wife return the HTC 8x and got and iPhone 5.
  • And don't forget dead trigger, shadowgun, walking dead, NOVA etc... There are tons and tons of AAA games absent on WP. Only crappy indie games. No matter how much die hard WP zealots argue that it isn't about apps, they need to realize that it IS ABOUT APPS AND GAMES. Apps is what propels a platform. How do you think iOS has such a cult following(which many people despise but face the truth)? Its was all because of the apps. I'm glad I switched to iPhone.
  • NOVA is actually coming to Windows Phone though.
  • it is, but when? after no one gives a shit about it anymore?
    i still like my 920 a lot, but lately i've been using my n4 more just because i feel like msft is screwing things up more than ever lately from a management standpoint.
    xbox music is a mess, and why can't i even transfer movies from their service to my phone when i can DOWNLOAD them to the device on other platforms.
    honestly the only thing keeping me with wp right now is the 1 yr of xbox music i got with my surface and the hardware in the 920. micrsoft needs to get its ass in gear.
  • Ok... Then ..finish moving on a leave....
  • They are already talking, BB10 With instagram at launch. Who knows, I might be able to jump ship to BBM, since I hate ios, and Android.
  • Wait... how does lack of an app make MS incompetant? How is it not an issue with the developers, and/or owners of the companys? Did MS tell instagram to stay away from their OS, or is it the other way around? 
    If Instagram wants the largest membership they can get they will offer their app on all platforms. They are the ones who are holding it up.
    If things like that matter most to people then please, by all means leave and get another phone.
  • Don't worry, people are leaving and not coming back.
  • Troll much?
  • i'm sorry, if BB (a brand that has worse mindshare than windows phone at the moment) actually pulls off getting instagram at launch with BB10, then it is clearly microsoft's fault for not making whatever deal they needed to to get them to develop or allow msft to develop the app for their platform.
  • That's true. There's no app availability problem that throwing money at the developer won't solve. If Microsoft wants Instagram bad enough, they'll work a deal out.