Microsoft Gets Mobile Gaming Right. Apple, Sony, Google Should Follow

The Game Developers Conference barely started, but surprising news is already here: Windows Phone 7 games will integrate avatars, gamer handles, and other profile info from the massively popular XBox Live community.

From Kotaku:

Windows Phone 7 games will include the ability to unlock achievements on a phone as well as pulling in a user's gamertag, 2D avatar and even let gamer's know when it's their turn to play.

This will all come thanks to an update to XNA Game Studio 4.0 being unveiled at the Game Developers Conference today, Microsoft's Michael Klucher writes on his blog.

The lead program manager at microsoft, Klucher said he will be in San Francisco this week to talk about the things that the latest build of XNA can do for developers and their games.

And that includes quite a bit of cross-Xbox 360 support.

"The other key component of XNA Game Studio 4.0 that we've enabled exclusively for Xbox partners is Xbox LIVE and a premium gaming experience on Windows Phone 7 Series,' he writes. "Through the Gamer Services API's you can pull in a user's Gamertag and 2D Avatar as part of the game experience, unlock achievements on the platform, and leverage notifications for asynchronous turn based gaming."

This development is, in a word, great, and it is a case where Sony, Google and even Apple could learn a lot from Microsoft:
  • Unifying competitors: Apple's online gaming communities are a mess because each company has its own online setup. Off the top, ngmoco, EA Mobile, Gameloft have but a fraction of the iPhone/iPod Touch online communities. If you want to track the gameplay stats, measure yourself against online competitors and build friendships, then you must manage the million and one different identities. Microsoft's unifying plan can give every gamer one specific identity -- one he or she will be more likely to be invested in.
  • Unifying platforms: Sony's online community, the PlayStation Network, is only second to Microsoft's XBox Live when it comes to quality and user loyalty. So why aren't PSN profiles integrated into its much-maligned PlayStation Portable mobile consoles? The only thing Sony attempted was an awkward PlayStation 3/PSP connection that allowed downloadable video games. In 2009, XBox Live had an estimated 17 million users. Microsoft already has gamers eager to take their avatar on the road.
  • Creating investment: Google's game strategy is straight spaghetti -- Let developers create and we'll see what sticks. As I've previously extolled, both publishers and customers appreciate Google's anything goes policy. The problem is that the Android platform could easily turn into an iPhone/iPad crisis where Google needs triplicate apps and useless programs to be purged. Video games are part of this issue and, despite not being a video game company, Google should set up a game-friendly profile system a la Microsoft. It could serve as the backbone where the wild content grows -- though, at the rate Android app development is growing, it will soon be too late to manage.
Photo Courtesy of TechFlash Todd/ / CC BY 2.0 RELATED: