Why Microsoft’s Mobile Gaming Strategy Is a Mistake

57 Comments

While Microsoft (s msft) has yet to disclose a date, Windows Phone 7 appears ready to launch this fall. With this news comes hype surrounding the company’s mobile gaming strategy. But as I discuss in my weekly column over at GigaOM Pro, I’m not convinced embracing mobile games is the right way for Microsoft to get back in the smartphone race.

The guys in Redmond have an impressive arsenal when it comes to the video game world, of course, and Windows Phone 7 will support Xbox Live. But here’s the thing: Microsoft’s ever-dwindling base of mobile users doesn’t want to play “Halo” or update their cute little avatars on their phones, and I’m not sure how many other consumers want features like that either.

Microsoft is making the same mistake that has plagued game-makers for years in mobile: confusing the handset with the console. After years of spinning its wheels with console-type titles that were often unplayable on the phone, mobile gaming received a much-needed kick in the pants with the emergence of the iPhone (s aapl). That lift has come in the form of simple, casual titles that can be played alone in a matter of minutes. Most mobile gamers don’t want “twitch” games like “Halo;” they want Angry Birds. They don’t want to engage with other gamers; they want to play a quick game, get a high score and move on. That’s especially true of the business users that have been Microsoft’s bread and butter for years.

I understand Microsoft has to make some drastic changes. Windows Mobile is an antiquated platform that can’t hold a candle to iOS or Android (s goog) when it comes to the user experience. There’s no denying that support for games and other fun apps is crucial for any mobile operating system in the era of the superphone. But Microsoft seems intent on forfeiting much of its business audience to pursue what may be a small niche of hardcore, community-minded gamers. That’s a puzzling move for a company whose few successes in mobile have come in the business world.

Read the full post here.

Image courtesy flickr user KungPaoCajun.

57 Comments

peter

you are not making sense.
i plan on getting a windows phone 7
however i probably will not even set up the xbox live tile
how is that “forfeiting” me as a user?
right now “business” users use blackberries and kind of wish they could use iphones etc. with wp7, you dont have to wish, thats all.
msft has never been a niche company.

Jack C

The definition of “gaming” evolves constantly. New technology paves the way for certain types of logistical innovation.

It isn’t even hard to see compelling ways that mobile devices could not only provide serious platforms, but also integrate with console/pc gaming.

Consider whether or not a WoW player would auction, farm mats, or utilize a profession via their mobile device if they could.

Regardless of what all of those complacent companies out would have us think, innovation isn’t more of the same.

Colin

As other comments have suggested, this might really be the only chance Microsoft has to stay competitive in the market. They won’t be able to break into the market with a basic strategy — the Android and iPhone have eaten up too much space. It seems like playing on the hardcore-gamer niche market might be the only way to stand up to the smart-phone giants.

Didn’t Microsoft rake some cash away from the Wii by appealing to the hardcore gamers that didn’t want to play a cutesy kids’ game? Why couldn’t it work here too?

Eddie Ergonomics

I hope gaming is NOT the TOP priority on phone7 because if MS don’t get the UI right than this phone will only be popular at your favorite Tech Graveyard.

To start with they might want to make scrolling VERTICALLY on the home screens optional as most users will soon tire from the up/down scrollmo. I suggest a quick tap customizable icon that can instantly jump between virtual screens.

Anyway they will have their work cutout for them just to make a consitent highly-effecient (aka least taps)
user interface BEFORE they start working on gaming and such. You can thank me laters.

Jason

This is a ridiculous article which would seem to imply that full Xbox 360 games are being ported to Windows Phone 7. Had you followed the product or even seen Microsoft’s official list of games that will be available at launch, you would see that this isn’t the case.

As for consumers wanting Xbox Live on their phone? I think that’s a very strong selling point. When you consider that the Xbox has a large loyal fanbase and given the “achievement whore” culture of a lot of the Xbox community, why wouldn’t Xbox Live integration be of interest to those consumers. Also for non-Xbox consumers, Xbox Live is a bit of a buzzword that might catch their interest.

I’ve never been to this site before but I’m disinclined to return if this is the quality of the journalism that can be found here.

Sachendra Yadav

It’s an incorrect assumption that MS will not have games that make sense on mobile.

As for the focus on gaming, stats show that 70% of paid apps sold in iPhone App Store are games, so MS assumption that smartphones should focus on games is in line with what the market demands.

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