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.
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