Microsoft (NSDQ: MSFT) is hoping that some of the success it has had with gaming on the video game console will carry over to the mobile phone. The company is laying out a key part of its Windows Phone 7 strategy, announcing 50 Xbox titles — a “mix of new and familiar games that target both the casual and hardcore gamer” — which will be available for phones running its mobile operating system, when it comes out later this year. And, Microsoft says there are many more Xbox titles to come, describing the initial lineup as just a “sampling.”
The company is playing up Windows Phone 7’s ties to the Xbox as much as possible, which is smart since, while both Android and the iPhone have their own huge selections of gaming apps, neither has a link to an established video game console. In addition to the crossover of Xbox Live casual titles like Bejewled and Uno, the company says Windows Phone 7 will offer “companion titles” to some of the Xbox 360’s biggest hardcore hits, including Halo and Crackdown. Windows Phone 7 will also let owners connect with their Xbox Live online accounts, so that users will be able to message their Xbox Live friends and play multiplayer titles with other members via their phones.
The announcement comes as Microsoft seems to be leveraging as many of its properties as possible in hopes of making Windows Phone 7 a success (CEO Steve Ballmer has said there’s no contingency plan if it isn’t). The company had said back in February, when it announced the mobile operating system, that in addition to being tightly integrated with the Xbox, Windows Phone 7 would also have tie-ins to Office, the Bing search engine, and the Zune music service. We’re still waiting for details about how those three will fit.