Windows Phone 7: Microsoft Talks Games at Gamescom

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Let's set aside the Apple vs Android battle for a moment and focus on Windows Phone 7, still scheduled for release this fall. This week Gamescom is going on in Cologne and Microsoft took the opportunity to talk about gaming on their new mobile platform.

It sounds like all the things we were promised way back last February are going to be ready for launch. You'll still be able to access your Live account and see your gamerscore, your avatar, friends list and so on. But back in February we didn't know what kinds of games we were really going to see. Now we do.

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FingerGaming has a complete list of launch titles for Windows Phone 7. The good news is that Microsoft will have some original titles that tie-in with existing Xbox 360 franchises. Examples include Halo Waypoint and Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst. The less good news is that a lot of the games are ports from the iPhone. Things like Fruit Ninja and Flight Control. I'm of two minds when it comes to these ports. If Microsoft wants to lure iPhone gamers over to Windows Phone 7, re-issuing games that've been played to death probably isn't the way to do it. On the other hand, these are great games and people new to smartphone gaming get a very broad selection of titles to choose from right out of the gate. It's also worth noting that many of these titles haven't hit the Android platform yet, which indicates to me that Microsoft is paying these developers to port their titles. My really cynical side wonders if Microsoft is also paying them not to port to Android.

One really nice feature that Microsoft is carrying over from Xbox Live to Windows Phone 7 is the requirement that every game have a free demo. I suppose it's too much to ask for Apple to take a lesson from this. (The Android Market doesn't require a free demo but it at least offers refunds.) Another interesting twist is that they've taken a bunch of fairly ubiquitous apps (flashlight, ruler, level, etc) and turned them into avatar tools. So for example when you want to use your phone as a flashlight, your on-screen avatar whips one out and points it at you. The screen washes out from the brightness and now you have your typical 'full bright' flashlight-phone.

Engadget has a great post full of even more info as well as a variety of videos (one of which is embedded below). I urge you to head over there and check out the rest.

After seeing what Windows Phone 7 has on offer for gamers I find myself hoping they port all of this to the Zune or other 'non-phone' device and let it all work over WiFi. I don't think I'm ready to give up my Android phone for Windows Phone 7, but I'd love to have the gaming features on a handheld device.

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