Is Microsoft leveraging Xbox LIVE functionality well enough in Windows Phone 7?

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| April 26, 2011

If you’ve got a device that runs any one of the advanced mobile operating systems out there, then you know that you’re fully capable of doing a lot more than just what the phone has to offer. Whether it’s watching movies, having conversations on a fully-featured version of an instant messaging client, or playing games, your device is a gateway to a seemingly endless number of ways to keep yourself entertained. When it comes to gaming, both Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS are gaining ground, even putting the mobile gaming giants into the corner with their market ascension. But, with Microsoft’s gaming chops fully certified in the home console market, why does it seem like they are having such a hard time in the mobile gaming market?

When looking at Windows Phone 7, there are several different things that we can look at and wonder about the future. We’re just over six months of the mobile OS’ life on the market, and there are many people out there who believe Microsoft isn’t doing all that well. This alone could be the sole reason why WP7 isn’t doing all that great in gaming, but with Microsoft keeping all those important sales numbers a secret for now, there’s no way we can be sure.

What it may come down to, at the most basic of conclusions, is the gaming selection. But, more importantly, the fact that Xbox LIVE games are segregated from the other choices available in the Marketplace. What’s worse, though, is that what’s available in the general gaming area outweighs what’s available in the Xbox LIVE section by a ridiculous amount. As of this writing, there are 63 Xbox LIVE titles available for download. Truthfully, that could be broken down to 10 titles released a month, and that’s not bad at all. However, none of these games are high-profile, or make Xbox LIVE stand out.

Way back when Microsoft was initially showing off Windows Phone 7, they talked about the “three screens.” They did this, because they were showing off Windows Phone 7’s ability to play Xbox LIVE Arcade titles right from the phone. Users would then be able to pause the game on their phone, and pick it up right from their console. Or they could start playing it on their PC, and then go back to another method of playing when they saw it.  We have yet to see that feature make headline news since the launch of WP7, and I think that’s something that may be holding back the gaming market on the platform. (Game Center: Logic Games does include Chess, which lets you play with people on a PC, but this is just one title so far.)

With iOS’ Game Center, and Open Feint making social gaming a real presence on the Android platform, it would seem that Windows Phone 7 is left out in the cold. But that’s just not the case. It has Xbox LIVE behind it, and while Android and iOS may be gobbling up gaming market share, Microsoft’s got a giant of a service backing their mobile OS. It just doesn’t look like it’s getting utilized to its full potential as of right now. And, that may be just another part of Windows Phone 7’s questionable stagnation.

Do you think Microsoft is using Xbox LIVE to its full potential in Windows Phone 7, or should the company be trying to push the service more? Do you think high profile games like Angry Birds, which is set to launch on the platform near the end of May, will start a wave of new games making their way to WP7? Let me know what you think in the comments below.