With the launch of Windows Phone 7 just around the corner (Microsoft says Holidays 2010, other sources hint as early as October), it is about time Microsoft further detailed its Xbox Live gaming initiative on the forthcoming mobile platform. If you own an Xbox 360 and have an Xbox Live account, navigating the Xbox Live gaming hub on a Window Phone 7 device will be a very familiar experience. The first “tab” within the hub is named Profile and it stores your Xbox Live avatar, gamerscore, and message notifications. Your avatar can be interacted with by tapping on it, shaking the phone, and spinning the phone in various orientations. If you select the message notifications icon, you will be brought to the Messages tab where you’ll find a list of text and voice messages left by your Xbox Live friends. You can send and receive messages on your device in real time just as you would on the console. There’s also an Achievements tab that shows you all of your collected acheivements, categorized by game, on the phone and console. You can tap a game title to view the specific achievements awarded within each game to see when you received them; you can then select a specific achievement to see how you received it. The Friends tab congregates a bunch of your Friends’ avatars; tap anywhere on this screen to bring up your friends list. You can see who is on and offline, what games your friends are currently playing, view friends’ acheivements, and compare your achievements to a specific friend’s achievement list. If you click a friends’ gamertag from the list his (or her) avatar will fly on screen and you can view personal information like gamerscore, location, and bio. It all works exactly in line with what you’re used to on the console; there are no surprises here.
Microsoft went all out on Avatar interaction and customization on the phone. In the Profile tab you can select a button to enter the Avatar Closet. Here you can customize your avatar with clothes, hats, and all kinds of gear. You can use your finger to spin the avatar around to view its new style from various angles. What you do with your avatar on the phone is reflected on the console, and vice versa. At launch time, only free items will be available to download in the Avatar Closet. However if you purchase a new look on the console, that will be reflected on the phone. In addtion to customizing your avatar you can make them utilize Avatar Gadgets. These are simple productivity tools that feature your avatar on-screen. They include a flashlight, ruler, level, and coin toss. Sure this is all a bit gimmicky, but it looks fun!
Now let’s talk about what’s most important here: the games. Microsoft has announced the first wave of Windows Phone 7 games, and they include a list of over 60 titles from Microsoft Game Studios and popular third party developers like Gameloft, THQ, and Namco Bandai. Microsoft promises that new titles will be added to the collection on a weekly basis once the platform is officially up and running. Of the limited number of games previewed, it was Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst (from MGS) that really impressed. The tower defense game will use Bing Maps to present a bunch of baddies marching down real streets in your neighborhood. You can use pinch-to-zoom, screen rotation, and finger tracking to guide the game. Gameloft will bring Splinter Cell: Conviction, Let’s Golf 2, Earthworm Jim, Assassin’s Creed, and The Oregon Trail; Glu Mobile is working on Guitar Hero 5; Konami’s got Frogger and Castlevania; and Microsoft Game Studios will lead the way with Halo: Waypoint and The Harvest. The launch lineup is exciting to say the least.
A couple side notes concerning the games. (1) The full multiplayer experience you’ve come to know and love on the console will not be playable on phones at launch. Only turn-based multiplayer games like Uno will be available to play over the Internet with friends. (2) Every game will have a try-before-you-buy demo. If you download a demo and decide you want to purchase a game, you’re only one click away from unlocking the game’s license to play to your hearts content. (3) All WP7 Xbox Live games have a 200 gamerscore. And remember, if you unlock an achievement on the phone this will be reflected on your gamerscore on the phone and the console.
Fellow gamers, Xbox Live on a mobile phone is coming soon. Friends, messaging, achievements, avatars, exciting first and third party games. Microsoft has all the ingredients to make Windows Phone 7 not only a competing but dominant force in mobile gaming. Execution is key here. If Microsoft can really pull off the Xbox Live experience on their new mobile platform with heavy developer support, an evolution of the mobile gaming landscape is on its way. Apple be afraid, very afraid.
Look after the break for the full PR, which includes the list of launch titles, and an intro video.
[Via Xbox; Engadget; Gizmodo] READ MORE Xbox Live on Windows Phone 7 detailed