When Windows Phone was Windows Mobile, I used Microsoft's mobile platform for one reason: Word. There wasn't much else I liked about the platform as a whole, and I was more than happy to jump off ever using it again when the iPhone came around. And then, by the time Android showed up, I never even gave Windows Mobile another look. So, it was a little strange when Microsoft started to tease Windows Phone, and the leaks started to make the rounds, I was even remotely interested. By the time Microsoft officially unveiled their new mobile venture, with all of those Live Tiles and hardware partners, I was hooked. I wanted to get my hands on it immediately.
It had nothing to do with mobile, though.
Admittedly, I loved what Microsoft was doing with Live Tiles for the mobile market. It was different enough from iOS and Android that it stood out, and I could see why anyone would want that type of interface in their hands. sometimes a glance is great, and Live Tiles make that easy. It's a strength that Microsoft has clung to since the start, and for good reason. Windows Phone is still one of the most unique mobile platforms available for wide consumption, and that's a good thing firing on all cylinders.
But my love for Windows Phone, and my desire to start using it, wasn't built around any kind of need to disrupt the mobile industry, or even the way I used phones. Sure, Live Tiles are great, but eventually I'm just going to go back to the way I use my phone and always be looking at it. It didn't take me long to realize what was attracting me to Microsoft's mobile platform, though: Xbox Live. To have that service, which I had been using for so long on my home consoles, right there on my phone? Achievements, Friends Lists, Leaderboards and multiplayer games? How could I pass that up?
I've been waiting for Xbox Live to take off on Windows Phone ever since.
Right now, as of the time of this writing, there are just over 160 Xbox-branded games available on your Windows Phone. It's been available for Windows Phone right out of the gate, with better functionality and features released since, and there are fewer than 200 games available for the gaming platform. To compare: Apple's Game Center, the iOS specific Xbox Live-like platform was unveiled in 2010, too -- and it has *way* more than 200 games available for it. And then Google's Play Games service, which also has more than 200 games available for it. But that launched in 2013.
So, let's just be honest: Android and iOS are completely demolishing Windows Phone when it comes to gaming, and that's *just* talking about the games built for their specific "social" feature. Game Center and Google Play Game Services (this seriously needs a different title, Google) offer the same functionality as Xbox Live, but boast far more titles. This is just one of the reasons why I've been critical of Xbox Live on Windows Phone over the years. It's the biggest reason why I've been so disappointed in the gaming platform ever since its debut.
And why I'm excited to hear that Microsoft may be looking to bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android in the future. According to a report published by The Verge, that's the plan. To bring Xbox Live to iOS and Android, and to give game developers the ability to integrate things like Friends Lists, Achievements and cross-platform gaming. This is huge (for gamers) if this is actually something Microsoft is working on.
Sure, it's a little backwards, because you'd imagine that Microsoft would be trying harder to make things for developers so that they want to create games on Windows Phone, but maybe it's just time to realize that, right now (and for the foreseeable future), gaming is going to stay prominent on Android and iOS. So, why not offer your excellent multiplayer gaming platform to them? Get your services on everything so people are using them.
I want Xbox Live on Android and iOS. I don't use Game Center, and I don't use Google Play Game Services. (I mean, I do, but not actively. They exist and the service is working in the background, but I never actively engage with them.) I use Xbox Live every single day, have a lot of gaming friends, and it would be pretty great if we could continue to compete on our mobile devices, too. Without being chained to Windows Phone, where there just aren't that many games.
Would you play more games on your mobile devices if you could access Xbox Live? Will it benefit Microsoft to launch their gaming platform on other mobile operating systems, or should they keep it on Windows Phone only? Let me know what you think.