Why Cross-Platform Gaming is Microsoft's Secret Weapon
Now that Windows 8 plays nice with phones and tablets, Microsoft can finally do cross-platform gaming right.
Tue, March 12, 2013
PC World — Microsoft has taken major heat for its recent reinventionA efforts, but amid public lambasting of Windows 8 and the Surface tablets, a critical new development has largely been ignored: The company has both the hardware and software to dominate the four most important gaming screens in your life.
Your PC. Your tablet.A Your phone.A Your TV. Microsoft can offer a consistent gaming experience across all of them, thanks to Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox--four platforms that are uniquely glued togetherA by our omnipresent Microsoft Accounts, and, by extension, the personal profiles and credit card numbers locked within.
Indeed, if you ownA multiple Microsoft devices and want proof of the gaming synergies that Microsoft can deliver, look no further than Skulls of the Shogun.
Released in January across Windows 8, Windows RT, Windows Phone 8, and Xbox 360,A Skulls is a turn-based strategy game that takes full advantage of Microsoft's cross-platform gaming hegemony. Players onA disparate devices can go head-to-head in multiplayer combat, breaking down the historical barriers among the various hardware types. It's an excellent feature in an excellent game, as well as a harbinger of how gaming will evolve.
So why isn't Microsoft making a bigger deal about cross-platform play? Xbox consoles and Windows PCs are already powerful gaming platforms, so using these assets to promote the greater Windows ecosystem would help sell a lot of smartphones and tablets, right?
In theory, yes. But if Microsoft is to rule the gaming universe, it will need a big assist from theA architects of the gaming universe: developers.
Tapping developer talent
To help entice developers to create games for Windows 8, Microsoft trucked out shiny newA software development tools at the 2012 Game Developers Conference. Senior Xbox Live Product Marketing Manager Peter Orullian says Microsoft has had great success convincing developers to develop games forA Windows 8A with the new Xbox Live SDK, but that's not surprising. After all, marketing Xbox Live is part of his job description.
What is surprising is his promise that Microsoft is going after mobile gaming in a big way, pushing developers to take advantage of Xbox Live's servers to build cross-platform games with asynchronous multiplayer elements and cloud storage.
During a recent phone conversation, Orullian confirmed that at least two more cross-platform games are coming to the Windows Store. You'll be able to start each game on one device, pause it when life intervenes, and then start again--right where you left off--on a completely different device.