Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

Summary: Microsoft is reconfirming, on the eve of Gamescom 2010, that it is making sure the Windows Phone 7 platform will be a game-centric one.


Microsoft is reconfirming, on the eve of Gamescom 2010, that it is making sure the Windows Phone 7 platform will be a game-centric one.

On August 16, Microsoft officials confirmed earlier reports that Microsoft Game Studios is creating a dedicated group to develop video games for Windows Phones. The group also will help recruit smaller, indie game makers, according to the company.

Microsoft says the dedicated group inside of Microsoft Game Studios will develop video games for Windows phones, help outside game publishers and scout out small, independent game makers. Company officials also said to expect Halo Waypoint, Star Wars, Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, and Guitar Hero 5 to all be available for Windows Phone 7 when the devices launch this fall.

All in all, there are 50 titles that will be available for Windows Phone 7. According to a spokesperson, these "are just the beginning of a full portfolio of games and applications coming to Windows Phone 7 this holiday – there is much more to come. Additional titles will be announced between now and the Windows Phone 7 launch this holiday season; once the phone launches, new Xbox LIVE titles will be added to the games portfolio every week."

Microsoft has a team of dedicated evangelists working on convincing game developers to write Windows Phone 7 versions of their products. This team is playing up the fact that developers can use the same XNA Framework and related tools as they used to build Xbox 360 games to create new titles for Windows Phone 7.

Microsoft decided rather than have different frameworks for each of its devices (Xbox, Zune HD and Windows Phone) it would fold capabilities for all the platforms back into the larger XNA gaming framework, said Shawn Hargreaves, a Microsoft developer on XNA Game Studio.

(Hargreaves spent nine years in the gaming industry before deciding to join Microsoft. He was a lead programming on the MotoGP bike racing games. While in college, Hargreaves developed Allegro, an open source game programming library.)

"We didn't want Xbox developers to have to start from scratch" when developing for Windows Phone 7, Hargreaves said, even though the two platforms are quite different. So "we thought about what could be extracted." In the end, about 97 percent of what (Xbox developers) are already doing can be applied to the phone, he said.

Microsoft's overall advice for Windows Phone 7 developers is to use XNA for developing games and Silverlight for developing other Web applications. Hargreaves said Microsoft is telling those who are building applications making use of 3D graphics to think XNA, while those using text controls should gravitate toward Silverlight. (That said, in some cases I know of developers using XNA to create non-gaming content for the phones because they've been dissatisfied with Silverlight's performance.)

The bottom line is gaming developers interested in targeting Windows Phone 7 need to learn the C# platform, Hargreaves said. Hargreaves, a C++ developer himself, said it took him two weeks to learn C# and one month to become "an expert."

Microsoft is in the process of bringing its Game Studio environment to Windows Phone 7, said Michael Klucher, a Lead Program Manager for the XNA Development Platform team. His group also has started building Windows Phone 7 developer kits, such as a racing game kit and a puzzle game kit. There's not some "magical potion" that automatically optimizes games to run on Windows Phone 7, he said, but the Game Studio could help developers move the bulk of their codebase, art and more to forthcoming phones.

"You do need to tune for the touch screen and high-resolution display," Klucher said. "You also have to think about how your game would tie together across different kinds of devices," like PCs, gaming consoles, phones and more.

(Klucher has worked on the XNA Game Studio since its original inception, and has worked on the design of features like XNA Framework Content Pipeline, Game Studio Connect on the Xbox 360 and the evolution of XNA Game Studio for the Zune platform. He started his careers at Rainbow Studios, working in the animation division. He then moved to the videogame industry, with a specialization in mobile gaming and gadgets.)

A few of the indie game developers already building for Xbox are sold on Windows Phone 7 as another potentially lucrative platform.

"This (Windows Phone 7) platform is open like the Xbox 360," said Nathan Fouts of Mommy's Best Games. Fouts is the creator of the Xbox Community Game "Weapon of Choice."

"Initially we weren't looking at developing for WIndows Phone 7 until we heard it would use XNA and C#," he said. "After that, it was a  no-brainer. It was so easy our intern handled the entire port himself" of one of the existing games to Windows Phone 7, he said. "In two weeks, we had the whole game working and playable. Now we are just doing more polishing."

Phillipe Rapin of Press Start Studio (and TwinBlades) fame -- another Microsoft Xbox 360 indie game developer -- echoed the same ease-of-development comments.

"What pushed us the most (to do a Windows Phone 7 game) was the ease of development," Rapin said. "We had an Xbox version of Twin Blades and it only took two weeks for one of our coders to port the game onto WP7, and it worked on the device at the first attempt. With both platforms sharing a common tool -– the XNA framework -- Microsoft really eased the work of developers, with virtually no investment needed and on top of that they gave us tech and business development support."

Rapin said the way Microsoft is structuring the Windows Phone 7 Marketplace and gaming hubs also is appealing.

"Microsoft’s gaming hub is definitely more thorough not only in ensuring that great games have more visibility in the marketplace, but also with providing them with the additional value of Xbox Live services such as leaderboards and achievements linked to Xbox," he said.

Any other Windows Phone 7 developers out there writing (or thinking about writing) games for the Windows Phone 7 devices coming this holiday season? Why/why not?

(Image above is from a slide deck on developing for WP7 from Microsoft Developer Evangelist Mike Ormond.)

Topics: Operating Systems, Microsoft, Mobility, Software, Windows


Mary Jo has covered the tech industry for 30 years for a variety of publications and Web sites, and is a frequent guest on radio, TV and podcasts, speaking about all things Microsoft-related. She is the author of Microsoft 2.0: How Microsoft plans to stay relevant in the post-Gates era (John Wiley & Sons, 2008).

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

    But does it make calls?
    • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7


        The same advertisers that brought us Seinfeld (lets play footsie and wiggle our shorts Bill), Laptop Hunters (that got all sorts of bad press for lies (incorrect pricing and customer never actually went into an Apple store) and portraying windows as "cheep"), And Windows 7 was Macs idea (where a college kid who can't get laid and get kicked out of his dorm room (by his Mac roommate) has to watch TV in the hall because he doesn't even have a friend whom he could visit).

        I bet Kinect will<a href="" title="cinsel sohbet" target="_blank">cinsel sohbet</a> not be magical either.
        IE8 had multi-process architecture before Chrome launched, and in fact<a href="" title="sohbet" target="_blank">sohbet</a> was the first browser to announce the feature. <a href="" title="gay sohbet" target="_blank">gay sohbet</a> That's why both Chrome and IE use far more memory than the other browsers.<a href="" title="mynet sohbet" target="_blank">mynet sohbet</a> Chrome is a bit more strict than IE, IE will allow tabs with the same integrety level to <a href="" title="mynet sohbet" target="_blank">mynet sohbet</a> share a single process.<a href="" title="mynet" target="_blank">mynet</a> <a href="" title="mynet sohbet" target="_blank">mynet sohbet</a> Outside of that MS beat Google to the punch.<a href="" title="mynet" target="_blank">mynet</a> Good try though.<a href="" title="indirmeden film izle" target="_blank">indirmeden film izle</a>If MS came out with touch UIs for at least Word, Excel,<a href="" title="forum" target="_blank">forum</a> OneNote, and Outlook, with super slick, and highly<a href="" title="youtube" target="_blank">youtube</a> effective integrated virtual keyboards, that would be mind blowing! I think <a href="" title="canli sohbet" target="_blank">canli sohbet</a>that would be like lighting a rocket under PC touch computing.<a href="" title="bedava film izle" target="_blank">bedava film izle</a>
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        @jagansai Thanks for sharing. i really appreciate it that you shared with us such a informative post..
        <a href="">Degree</a> <a href="">college degree</a> <a href="">post graduate degree</a>
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        @jagansai @RosePeters If you are <a href="">iffet</a> MSFT would you rush to develop a <a href="">iffet dizisi</a> specialized OS for a sub-prime chip like that of current
        tablet <a href="">iffet izle</a> computers knowing <a href="">kuzey guney dizisi</a> fully well Intel's next Atom chips will come out of door slaughtering everything
        ARM has to offer. Throw a full-blown Windows eco-system at it, and it's gonna run
        just <a href="">kuzey guney</a> fine with <a href="">kuzey guney izle</a> great power efficiency. It's funny people even think MSFT needs to port Windows to ARM.
    • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

      @Zc456 It would be too bad if WP7 ended up dying off. Competition is good.

      I bet Kinect will not be magical either.<br><br><a href="">sohbet</a> could have made <a href="">chat</a> magical if they wanted to, they could have hired a man in a turtleneck to give a magical presentation and BAM... a <a href="">mynet sohbet</a> Event (maybe a <a href="">forum</a> product too, who knows.)<br><br><a href="">izlesene</a> would have been much cheaper to <a href="">cinsel sohbet</a> too. No wonder <a href="">portal</a> overtaking <a href="">chat sohbet</a>, <a href="">sohbet odalari</a> know where NOT to spend their money. <a href="">sohbet</a> <a href="">cinsel sohbet</a> <a href="">mirc</a>
    • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

      @Zc456 Is your unintelligent nonsense. People care because Windows 7 uptake is on the rise. More and more people will be switching over in the next few years as XP support (finally) falls away, and Windows 7 becomes tried and true. <a href=""><b>araba oyunlari</b></a>
  • Hope they are better than the games for iPhone

    Don't get me wrong, iPhone games are cute... for about 10 minutes. To compare them to the games you can get for the PSP (the only other mobile game platform I have any personal experience with) is absolutely laughable though!!!

    Again, before the Apple zealots go absolutely nuts on me, I'm not saying the iPhone is bad but come on, if you've played even one PSP game, you have to admit they are simply not even in the same league when it comes to gaming. And that's okay. iPhone doesn't have to be good at everything. But please don't ever compare iPhone to PSP. That's just silly.
    • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

      These games are a joke compared to GTA, Final Fantasy (and exclusive Square IP like Chaos Rings), Madden, Street Fighter, etc. Heck, half of the games in that trailer were available on the iPhone a year or two ago.

      And iPhone has 3G/Bluetooth/Wi-Fi multiplayer, enabling real-time multiplayer that won't be possible on Windows till mid 11'. This isn't even in the ballpark.
      • If so, that's too bad

        It would be too bad if WP7 ended up dying off. Competition is good.
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        @NonZealot I agree in theory, but I only think it's worthy to be called "competition" when it brings something really new to the table. Android's navigation, notification system and voice actions, for example, are a real challenge to Apple that they'll have to address. I see the Windows Phone and BB Torch, for example, as playing catch-up.
      • Something new to the table?


        [i]when it brings something really new to the table[/i]

        I think the fact that WP7 sports a task centric UI instead of an app centric UI is very new, and [b]extremely[/b] appropriate for a smartphone. People made fun of WM's start button and desktop approach but the truth is that a grid of icons (Apple) and widgets (Android) [b]are[/b] desktop paradigms. While I personally see WP7.0 as having too many showstoppers for me to wait around for, I can't wait to see WP7.5 or WP8. I fear, however, that MS's traditionally weak marketing and a blogosphere that is intent on making sure that WP7 fails is going to kill off what could otherwise be a very worthy competitor in a year or two.
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        I have to agree that WP7 dying off would be a bad thing for the reason you stated. I'm worried it won't get the momentum it needs, however. Hopefully it will last longer than the 6 weeks its cousin lasted...
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        Lol 3G is old and slow and now outaddated if your using 3G time to move to the now...You know what it will do much better then an iphone? It will make phone calls without a rubber skirt and it will run flash so free hulu for all. Good luck on that iphone..Can you hear me now? oh wait thats right it doesnt make calls lol
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7


        WP7 will NOT run flash (or have multi-tasking). Microsoft has already said this (officially). If you want flash, you have to go to android. And if you intend on watching a bunch of Hulu, be sure to have a power cord plugged in. because it sucks batty life like no other.
    • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7


      I think most phone games in general are fun little ways to kill a few minutes. I think that is where their strengths are as well. I especially love the ideas that they could tie into a more advanced system like Xbox Live. My phone will never be my primary gaming, or movie/tv device but it is always nice to have a great system available for those times you want to kill a little time without having to have a completely seperate device.

      I think for hardcare gamers, dedicated systems like the DS and PSP will always be better or have the capability to do so because that is their only focus and purpose.
      • I agree totally

        I'm more talking about people who talk about iPhone gaming as if it is a replacement for PSP gaming. I'll admit that when I got my iPhone, I was extremely disappointed with the quality of games because my expectations had been set by the Apple zealot crowd that iPhone gaming was on par with the PSP. It isn't. Not even close. Now, that isn't too big of a deal because I was looking for a smartphone, not a gaming platform, but prospective iPhone / iPod Touch buyers need to be made aware: you are [b]not[/b] buying a gaming device. You are buying a device that includes with it the ability to kill a few minutes with simple, mindless, unsophisticated games. That message doesn't seem to get out there very often and I think it is important that people truly understand what they are buying.
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7


        I see your point but for some people it could definitely be a replacement. The question I ask myself is, will the Iphone and Windows Phone 7 feed my quick mobile gaming fix? And the anser is yes, for sure. The games are very fun, even if they aren't overly complicated.

        I still think there is a market for the PSP
      • RE: Microsoft: Games to be front and center for Windows Phone 7

        I hope there will be more successful your site is very wonderful site. <a href="" title="sikis izle">sikis</a> Thanks to the efforts of. <a href="" title="porno">porno</a>
  • Impressive

    This looks very impressive.