Real-time console game interactivity is coming to Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 devices, which transforms the phone from a communications curio to an integral part of your game system. Apple may be following the same route. Should Sony be scared?
Microsoft’s Mobility Solutions manager Greg Milligan confirmed at the X10 event that “real time” phone-to-Xbox links were going to arrive with the new Windows Phone 7 devices, along with sub-games that play individually on the phone, but then communicate with the full-scale console game to unlock extra content or functions. These games may cost significantly less than titles on the Xbox Live system, at around $2 to $3–though you apparently won’t be getting much in the way of Twitter integration to inject a social angle into your gaming.
So what are we talking about here? It seems that Windows Phone 7 devices will be able to communicate with Xbox consoles, presumably wirelessly and we may expect to see in-game content served to the phone, or possibly the phone’s sensors letting it act as a controller. Specific titles will take some of the ideas we’re currently seeing on the iPhone (where console games like Mirror’s Edge have special iPhone versions) and developing them to a new level of interactivity. It’s good for players, who get to have a more “immersive” gaming experience, and it’s good for developers who get their titles before players eyeballs for longer and reap extra cash from the smartphone app purchases.
It’s exactly the sort of next-gen smartphone/console gaming that we speculated may be one powerful feature of the rumored new Apple TV–with the iPhone, iPad, or iPod as the remote handheld unit. If Apple’s device really is priced at $99, it’ll neatly undercut Microsoft’s Xbox pricing, and the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch are likely to be more ubiquitous than MS Phone 7 devices–meaning many people will have access to the gaming potential of the iTV. While Apple’s system certainly isn’t a console, lacking the raw graphics processing power, it does benefit from tens of thousands of games in the App Store.
Maybe Sony, with its fun but limited console-to-handheld interactive experiment on the PS3 and PSP, should perk up and pay attention … it needs to get that rumored PSP phone out on sale as soon as possible.
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