Windows Phone 8 needs a bigger focus on Xbox LIVE

Evan Selleck
Contributing Editor from  Arizona
| August 3, 2012

Even if I can’t use Windows Phone as my daily driver any longer, I still have the utmost respect for Microsoft’s mobile operating system. I will still admit that the platform is one of the best available. I still recommend people to try it, to see if it fits their usage style, because I think it deserves it. And above all else, I believe that there’s still so much potential brewing under the surface, or behind the scenes, that I think completely blocking out Windows Phone is the wrong decision. But potential can only last so long, and that’s why I think Microsoft needs to make sure that Xbox LIVE is one of the biggest focal points for the company with Windows Phone 8.

Here’s one reason why I think Windows Phone is one of the best platforms out there: selection. No, not hardware, or even with customized software. The selection I’m talking about is on Microsoft’s side. I wouldn’t be shocked at all if those at Microsoft in charge of making Windows Phone sat around at some point, talked about which points within the mobile industry had to be changed for the better, and then focused on “fixing them.” Or, in their eyes, making them better. They may have selected specific things to fix at specific times, and worked on doing just that.

So here’s my hope for Windows Phone 8: that those in charge of the platform have made Xbox LIVE one of the major focal points.

Right now, Xbox LIVE feels like an app, and nothing more. Worse, it feels like an application that’s not even remotely connected to Windows Phone in the slightest. Sure, you get logged into your Xbox LIVE GamerTag when you log into the phone with your Microsoft-friendly email account (like Hotmail), but other than that it’s just another application. Like the Xbox LIVE application you’d find on your friend’s iOS-based device, or even another fiend’s Android device.

The icing on the cake has to be that those two apps, in my opinion, are actually better than the Xbox LVE app on Windows Phone. In my experience, both are smoother in general usage, and their overall aesthetic appeal is just better. Of course, this is just my view, you could (and probably do) see it differently.

Xbox LIVE is one of the selling points of Windows Phone. It is. Just like Word, or OneNote. These services should be better on Windows Phone, as opposed to the applications made available on other platforms. But I think Xbox LIVE needs to get the most attention right out of the gate with Windows Phone 8, because I believe that there’s so much that can be done with it.

So much that can be done to combat Apple’s emergence in mobile gaming. The Cupertino-based company has Game Center, and its integration into games is so smooth, so user-friendly, that it’s actually nice to use. In every game I’ve played on a Windows Phone-based device, if the game is indeed connected to Xbox LIVE, the experience isn’t that great. Unlocking an Achievement is usually connected to a lag in gameplay, for instance.

These things need to be alleviated. Xbox LIVE needs to be just as smooth as, say, Messaging, or the People Hub. Another one of Microsoft’s selling points for Windows Phone is how smooth the user experience is, and that should absolutely extend to Xbox LIVE integration.

And here’s the other thing: gaming on Windows Phone should be better with Xbox LIVE than on any other platform. Yes, because of the Achievements. But, more than that, because there should be some major gaming studios getting on board with Microsoft to develop top-tier titles. My mind is literally blown that I can’t see any games like Infinity Blade II or even something like Jetpack Joyride. We don’t even need to think about how long it took Angry Birds to make an appearance on the platform, do we?

Microsoft, please make Xbox LIVE one of the biggest focus points for Windows Phone 8. I understand that there’s nothing “wrong” with the way that mobile gaming has been adopted by iOS and Android users, but you can make it better. I know you can.

The trouble is that the general user, the person who doesn’t have an Xbox 360 or an Xbox LIVE account, doesn’t care about this stuff. Unfortunately, that’s the reality. And that’s something that gamers like me, those who know that Xbox LIVE can be something truly amazing on Microsoft’s mobile platform, have to live with. But, we can hope. Dream, even.

What say you, Dear Reader? Do you use Xbox LIVE on your Windows Phone? How’s your experience been with the app so far? Do you care about Achievements, or Xbox LIVE-connected games, even if you don’t own an Xbox 360? Let me know.