Will Xbox Live be key to Windows Phone 7’s success?

Whether you own an iPhone, a Blackberry, or even a Nokia 3310, we’ve all experienced mobile gaming in some way or another. From Fruit Ninjas to Snake and Doodle Jump to Brick Breaker, every mobile device has its games that we just can’t resist playing in our spare time. Microsoft has recently re-entered the mobile gaming market with the Windows Phone 7 operating system which looks set to be a serious contender in the smartphone competition due to its Xbox Live tie-in.

Having already established a digital games service with the Xbox Live Arcade, Microsoft had an advantage in the market which they have imported to their mobile phone platform. Anthony Barker, BrightAi mobile application developer, believes that this may not prove as advantageous as they might think.

“Windows Phone has had a much-needed reboot to its platform. Like many other mobile providers, from Nokia (Ovi) and Google (Android), Microsoft is creating their own route to market with their very own App Store Marketplace. Only a few years ago the mobile games were mostly sold through numbers on the back pages of magazines or promotions, where you’d have to send a premium SMS to download them.”

He went on to continue how the Apple App Store, iPhone and iPod Touch users know and love, has allowed “developers, both large and small, to compete on a level playing field. This made buying Apps and Games on Mobile much more convenient for the consumer compared to the old premium messaging and downloading solutions.

“The one thing Microsoft has is its Xbox Live integration, something Apple has only just recently dived into with its Game Center platform, however porting existing Xbox Live titles to the device will not be a simple task for its developers, mostly due to the control mechanics. Many joypad-controlled titles struggle to port over to a small-screen portable touch sensitive device, so when it comes to gaming on the platform, developers almost have to wipe the slate clean and start fresh with new ideas.”

The Windows Phone 7 already has big names such as Hexic Rush, Rocket Riot and UNO, all of which have been released on the Xbox Live Arcade and there’s plenty more to come. Nevertheless, none of them have proved as popular as Angry Birds or Cut the Rope, which have surpassed the 6.5 million sales milestones.

One of the reasons for the high sales figures is down to the retail price of the games, both of which are priced at 59p. However, the cheapest Windows Phone 7 game is £2.49. Could this be an important factor in the sales figures? Time will tell.

In his spare time, Ant plays “Flight Control, Angry Birds, Tilt to Live, Dark Nebula and Cut the Rope – all touch-screen or tilt-focused games that I wish I had developed. I find D-Pad games a huge turn-off on touch-screen devices; they feature such old control mechanics that do not fit in with a touch sensitive device.

“Developers need to realise this and think outside the old box they are still in. I also think the mobile can bring life back to point and click adventures, something we are starting to see already in such games as the early Monkey Island series and Beneath the Steel Sky. Sadly I don’t have time for these great titles in favour of the more ‘dip-in-dip-out’ games whilst gaming on move.”

The Windows Phone 7 is available on a range of phones. Further details are available on: http://www.microsoft.com/windowsphone