In a bit of pre-Gamescom excitement, Microsoft announced the first wave of Xbox Live game titles slated to hit Windows Phone 7 when the platform launches later this year. The software giant also provided some insight into its new Games hub, which will bring Xbox Live features to Windows Phone. The new Games hub will be your gateway into the Xbox Live world and will include free game demos, Xbox LIVE achievements, LIVE leaderboards, LIVE Messaging, XBOX LIVE friends, turn-based multiplayer (asynchronous), custom avatars, and more. With the exception of true synchronous multi-player gaming which is on the product roadmap, Microsoft is aiming to bring most of the Xbox Live experience to Windows Phone 7 at launch.
Even though Microsoft will be the underdog nipping at the heels of Apple, the Redmond, Washington company is taking a no-holds barred approach to gaming on the Windows Phone platform. Microsoft will be launching with over 60 launch titles from both large and small game developers, including its own Microsoft Game Studios (MGS), which may be adding a dedicated mobile division. MGS will port it’s own homegrown suite of games and develop new first-party gaming titles for the mobile platform.
The list of launch titles assembled by Microsoft is impressive for a nascent mobile platform. A quick perusal of the list reveals several big name titles including Asphalt 5 by Gameloft, Guitar Hero 5 by Glu Mobile, Halo Waypoint by MGS, Star Wars: Battle for Hoth by THQ, Flight Control by Namco Bandai, Bejeweled LIVE by PopCap, and more. Microsoft plans to grow its mobile gaming catalog by adding new games on a weekly basis.
With 25 million active XBOX LIVE members, Microsoft may be able to grab the attention and possibly the cash of another subset of users. Though this potential user base may not care about getting email on their smartphones, they may be enticed by the ability to bring their gamer tag and achievements with them wherever they go. Regardless of whether you label yourself a gamer or not, tell us in the comments what you think of this sneak peek into Microsoft’s first major push into mobile gaming.