Games without frontiers: Windows Mobile 7

With the recent announcement of Windows Phone 7 Launch Game Line-Up it’s clear Microsoft wants WP7 to contend with iPhone as a serious gaming platform. I don’t think they have a chance.

“If looks could kill they probably will.” – Peter Gabriel

It’s all about looks and performance. The iPhone will be king of the graphics hill for a long time.

On the development hill, I’m excited about the Windows Phone developer’s tools because it brings the familiarity of Xbox Live game development to a mobile platform. Trust me, jumping from C# to Java for the Android SDK is a challenge, and breaking in to iPhone development in Objective-C is even harder.

The tools available for Xbox Live development should give WP7 an instant advantage over the anemic game selection on Android. But I doubt Microsoft will be able to compete effectively with iPhone as a gaming platform.

WP7 games will dominate Android games because:

  1. Xbox Live Arcade developers have already started porting their games from 360
  2. Potential for 3 screens: Start a game on Windows, Get serious on 360, share content on your phone
  3. Microsoft has a good set of development tools already

iPhone games will hold out to WP7 for the foreseeable future because:

  1. iPhone developers have a long head start
  2. iPhone has a higher bar set for minimum specs (games will run faster on iPhone)
  3. Apple quality control

I know it’s a sore subject, but I think game development on iPhone is so competitive partially because of Apple’s quality control. You wouldn’t see half of the junk that floods the Android Market if there was some sort of quality control beyond user ratings.