What's Missing, and Other Issues
Loading time was one of the biggest problems I encountered with Windows Phone 7 games. Some titles took nearly 30 seconds to start, and individual levels would occasionally stall during the loading process as well. Mobile games are known for providing bite-size portions of entertainment during idle time, so even a small delay can be a nuisance.
Other major issue is the phone's lack of multitasking, or more specifically, the inability of some apps to pick up where you left off. Some games restart completely after you lock the phone. Others resume from the start of whatever level you were on. Some do leave your progress intact when locking the phone, but all games require more load times to get rolling again. Clicking the home button is a different story. None of the games I tried would resume progress after returning to the phone's menu pages.
I was surprised to see multiplayer missing from obvious candidates like Monopoly. Actually, I couldn't find any games with multiplayer, but I'm assuming this will change once the phones go on sale. Either way, Xbox Live games only support turn-based multiplayer for now, with real-time multiplayer coming later. For now, this is one big missing feature that the iPhone already offers.
Finally, I'm disappointed that Microsoft didn't deliver on cross-platform gaming. Some titles, like Rocket Riot and CarneyVale Showtime, are also available on the Xbox 360, but they don't make use of the awesome capabilities Microsoft showed off earlier this year, which allow players to transfer their progress in one game across the Xbox 360, PC and phone.
Maybe it's wrong to hold Windows Phone 7 gaming up to such scrutiny. If I were to look at the iPhone or Android in a similar light, I'd probably turn up plenty of drawbacks. But Windows Phone 7 bears the burden of needing Xbox Live more than any other platform needs video games. The phone, however flashy and novel, lacks key features like multitasking and a clipboard. If I wasn't a gamer, those would be dealbreakers. Since Microsoft has taken such great pains to lure in gamers with Xbox Live, the phone deserves special consideration as a gaming device.
If Windows Phone 7 gaming was superior or at least equal to its competitors in every way - better games, real multiplayer matchmaking, more integration with the Xbox 360 - there's a good chance I'd forgive the phone's general shortcomings and get on board. The phone is halfway there, with some good exclusive titles, a clever interface and an addictive Achievement system, but I'm still waiting for the day that Xbox Live, like Windows Phone 7 in general, realizes its full potential.
This story, "Windows Phone 7: A Gamer's Review" was originally published by Technologizer.