Microsoft could ease the mobile Xbox Live certification process, and why that needs to happen
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Microsoft could ease the mobile Xbox Live certification process, and why that needs to happen

A few days ago, we reported that Microsoft is looking to create an open-source framework for bringing Xbox Live features to games for all mobile platforms. An additional report from The Verge has since added additional fuel to the fire, giving us a slightly clearer picture of what that means for Xbox Live on Windows Phone and other mobile devices.

Xbox Windows Phone has long been in dire need of a change. Read on to find out what went wrong, and how likely it is that the upcoming open-source framework will set mobile Xbox Live games back on track.

A system in need of change


Fairway Solitaire
Fairway Solitaire

It’s difficult to remember nowadays, but Xbox games were actually a selling point of Windows Phone 7 back when the platform launched in late 2010. That year, Microsoft reached out to numerous mobile developers across the world and encouraged them to port their games to Windows Phone as Xbox Live titles. In some cases, the big MS actually paid the developers to do the porting, but not always.

Of the 63 Xbox games announced for the Windows Phone 7 launch window, only 52 made it to market. A few, like Real Soccer and Asphalt 5 showed up as late as 2012 – well past the launch window. Many others were quietly cancelled without notice, making them vaporware. Check out our look back at Loondon, one of those vaporware titles.

In the early days of Xbox Windows Phone, Microsoft allowed some developers and publishers to self-publish their games. Normally, a company must have self-published retail Xbox titles in order to get that privilege. Sadly, the days of allowing companies to publish their own Xbox games are over. Fairway Solitaire was planned as an Xbox game but ended up an indie title due to that woeful constraint.

These days, the only Xbox games that appear on Windows Phone are published by Microsoft, EA, or Ubisoft. Even if a smaller developer wanted to release an Xbox game for Windows Phone, they would have to negotiate a publishing agreement with Microsoft thus losing an extra cut of the game’s profits, as well as control over that title’s future. So nobody makes Xbox games any more.

A tortuous certification process

MiniSquadron
MiniSquadron

The other major malfunction in the mobile Xbox system has long been the rigorous certification process. In order to be Xbox-enabled, games must be submitted for certification. The actual testing is done by low-wage contractors outside of Microsoft, who we’ve been told often provided vague or unhelpful feedback in the past.

One game, MiniSquadron actually took longer to push through certification than it did to develop! And after the game released with a few bugs unsquashed, the developer actually chose to delist it rather than face another round of certification. Another indie title that launched with severe bugs is I Dig It from InMotion Software. The Xbox Live certification team refused to allow the I Dig It bug-fixing title update to pass for a whopping eight months!

Just today, a former developer of Xbox games for Windows Phone and Windows 8 told us:

“Doing anything with Microsoft and Xbox Live is such a drain on our resources, and the sales just still aren't there on Microsoft's mobile platforms.  I believe it is best to launch without Xbox Live integration.  Then you have the freedom and flexibility to make your game the best it can be, not be hamstrung by Xbox Live services.”

Even Gameloft, a publisher that can better afford to pay for the slow and costly certification process chose to stop producing Xbox titles for Windows Phone last year. They still make Windows Phone games, but without the Xbox features that many gamers crave.

We saw the writing on the wall long before Gameloft jumped ship. In early 2013 I wrote a series of seven lengthy editorials chronicling all the problems facing Xbox Live games on Windows Phone. Only one of my grievances has been addressed (the need for a mobile Halo game), though requests for independent volume control and support for installing games on SD cards will finally be met when Windows Phone 8.1 rolls out.

Something different this way comes

Halo: Spartan Assault
Halo: Spartan Assault

Now that we’ve gotten the history lesson out of the way, let’s look at The Verge’s report. The website initially found a Microsoft job posting (which has since been removed ) that reads:

"We will create a modern framework that is open-source, lightweight, extensible and scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS, and Android."

The Verge goes on to add a bit of additional insight from its own source:

“Microsoft is aiming to "win back" game developers from its competitors by making Xbox Live a lot easier to integrate into apps and games. Xbox Live, in its current state, requires certification and permission from Microsoft, but in the future the company is planning to have fewer restrictions and better tools for game developers to integrate the functionality into titles.”

The obvious good news there is that certification for mobile Xbox Live games will at long last be eased. The current, Draconian certification process is basically copy-and-pasted form the Xbox 360, without any special concessions for mobile or indie developers.

Although large publishers like EA, Gameloft, etc. produce a lot of best-selling mobile titles, a significant portion of the most popular mobile games (including Flappy Bird) come from individual developers or very small teams. Remember, Microsoft made a few special publishing deals and/or threw some funding around in the early days of Xbox Windows Phone, but that pretty much stopped in 2012. Even those indie developers fortunate enough to self-publish during 2010-2011 still had to contend with a certification process that is overly rigorous and yet inefficient. No wonder they left.

Attracting developers back to Xbox Windows Phone is only part of Microsoft’s goal here. The job posting stated that the new framework will support Android and iOS as well. I’ve argued before that Xbox features should be exclusive to Microsoft platforms, so Xbox support on Android and iOS is bad for Windows Phone. But the sad reality is that there are important people within Microsoft who use iPhones and Android phones and just don’t care about the Windows Phone department’s success over their own departments.

Think back to Halo: Spartan Assault. If Microsoft couldn’t have also brought that game to Windows 8, Xbox One, and Xbox 360, the Windows Phone version never would have happened. Opening up Xbox Live to iOS and Android is a necessary evil in order to actually get the mobile Xbox Live certification process straightened up and revive Xbox Windows Phone. Let’s get developers making Xbox games again before we worry about whether our friends on iOS and Android unlock Achievements.

Will Microsoft really ease mobile Xbox Live certification to the point that lapsed developers who once supported Xbox Windows Phone will come back?

FIFA 14
Maybe more Xbox Windows Phone games will come after FIFA 14 after all.

The way the Verge tells things, you’d think Microsoft might be trying to position mobile Xbox Live as an equivalent to iOS’s GameCenter and Android’s Google Play services. That’s what Windows Phone gamers have long been crying for: a way for developers to add Achievements to their games without signing away control of the game or slowing down the process of getting games and updates to market.

It’s certainly possible that the recent leadership changes within Microsoft (including those that took place last week) have finally paved the way for revamping the mobile Xbox Live certification process. Although I fear there are few gamers making decisions like these that affect Xbox Windows Phone, the need for adjustment has been plain to see since 2010.

Even without the framework that Microsoft plans to build, a recent development has opened up a new, easier way for games on Windows Phone and non-Microsoft platforms to incorporate Xbox Live features. All Xbox Live functionality is available as web calls now. In other words, features like having an Achievement list and unlocking those Achievements can be done by communicating with a web server without much extra work from the developer. Theoretically, any game for any platform with web access can have Xbox Live features. Microsoft just has to approve that game as an Xbox Live title.

Returning to the new cross-platform framework revealed by the job posting, our Xbox Live developer source tells us that Microsoft has not started discussing the framework with third-party developers yet. As such, the initiative could still be pretty far off. But GDC and Microsoft’s BUILD conference are just around the corner. Perhaps the big MS will open up about the framework it’s creating during one of those events.

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Microsoft could ease the mobile Xbox Live certification process, and why that needs to happen

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I second that but I dislike that cross-platform idea.i mean have people so quickly forgotten what happened to blackberry after it sold its exclusive service(BBM).Have we learnt nothing?? :-/

I also don't like the idea of XBL going cross-platform. But it should, even if it's just to gain developer attention.

From what you said, IMO, Blackberry did not fail because BBM went cross-platform. They failed because by the time BBM was available on other platforms, there are just so many more messaging apps that have gained foothold and people no longer care about BBM. Blackberry wanted to use BBM as an advantage over other platforms but nobody would switch to a service that none of his/her contacts use even if they used to love it.

TL;DR Blackberry failed to use BBM as a marketing force because they were so slow. I think MS should act before XBL was dismissed by game developers as not a viable option by being nothing more than a headache and time consuming task. (Which it already is.)

I did not mean that blackberry failed when they went cross-platform,I meant that they did achieve the desired result.there was a trend of downloading BBM as soon as it went cross-platform but was anyone so impressed by it,that they converted to blackberry??that's my point,that even if the ios/android users like xbl features,WHY WOULD THEY BE ATTRACTED TO WP when they could get the same stuff on their respective platforms??I think instead of expanding xbl to cross-platform,MS should first try to make there own certification system better. :)

Of course. That's exactly the point. I can't say anything exactly about their decision (if done) to bring XBL to other platforms because it will bring mixed results but tweaking the certification process for the better will only bring positive results. Right now, XBL on WP is so lackluster compared to XBL on XBox, Game Center for iOS or even recently launched Google Play Games for Android. I do hope they will improve the situation ASAP.

Is it possible that Microsoft will return to software only? If this were to happen then software everywhere would be possible. There have been reports in the press saying powerful shareholders want to do this.

Should this be the plan then WP and Xbox Live on WP would go. Don't know, but going cross-platform is hinting at this, otherwise it would not be done!

Just my view....

Cross platform is exactly what I want, instead of playing Tetris Blitz, Wordament, etc., only against other WP owners, it would be nice to play my friends (none of which have WP).

Easing the restrictions for developers, yes. Losing one one of the advantages Windows Phone had over other mobile platforms, no.
The mini kingdoms thinking only about themselves continues. So much for "One Microsoft".
343 might as well publish Halo on PlayStation 4 because they should only think about their own subdivision instead of the Xbox brand.

Agreed, but they won't stop saying that even if more games support Xbox Live! But at least we'll see it less if this comes true.

A very nicely done article,Paul(As usual),you certainly wrote it better than Daniel who was rather one-sided about not caring about xbl games.(no offence to him).At least you mentioned the article from both perspectives.Thankyou. :) (y)

I am this way. If it doesn't support syncing everything between all my Microsoft devices no way I am going to buy it. And I don't have a Facebook account, so integrating Facebook to do anything is also an immediate no buy for me.

Instead of that what you will see is more people saying goodbye to Windows Phone. Why would they (me included) stick with WP if I can have everything that WP has plus all those things that are exclusive to android or iOS?! Why would anyone chose a WP then?!

I'd rather see XBL killed on WP. Same crap as game center on IOS. Just wanted to throw it out the window. For me it just adds bloat that I have no interest in. But that's my opinion. I just don't get all the fuzz I suppose.

XBox needed only for big games like FIFA NBA which is there. So big size games need XBox live. Doesnt matter of we didnt get tr2 as XBox live.

I think the issue with most "big" games not being XBL enabled is the price. The big developers and publishers want to charge 4.99 and 6.99 for games. I love indie games and non-XBL games, but I only buy them if they are around .99 to 1.99. If you want to charge a premium for a game, it must have premium features like Xbox Acheivements.

Hey Paul, you should add Square Enix to this sentence --> "These days, the only Xbox games that appear on Windows Phone are published by Microsoft, EA, or Ubisoft".

Their game releases are few and far between, but they still technically support Xbox on WP, with their fairly recent release of Final Fantasy 3 back just before New Year's. At the very least, they didn't abandon Xbox Live like Gameloft did, or (at least not yet) abandon all WP development like Sega and Namco Bandai.

I thought about including them, but we don't know for sure whether they have any new games coming. Ubisoft definitely has 2 games coming up (Rayman and Assassin's Creed: Pirates), and EA is very likely to publish another game. I do hope to see more from Square-Enix though.

Great article Paul, i really hope MS read that! The days where the Byzantine MS processes were acceptable (after a fashion) are long gone. MS will only benefit in being more accommodating, fluid, fast and efficient - whether it be certification or anything else they do!

Help make sure they read it and make sure they know Xbox gaming on WP and Win8 is important to you by tweeting them on Twitter (details here) and casting your voite on Uservoice (details here). #SaveXboxWP, por favor!

It should have happened YEARS ago.  XBL on WP right now is a joke.  Some devs give up on updating or supporting their app due to the long and painful certification process for each update.

Yep. Just another example of reactionary old MS. Shameful.

IMHO if they have top executives who can't get on board with WP, those execs must either help contribute to finding a way so they can get on board the ship, fast, or walk the plank. The days when an exec could just not care about what goes on in other parts of the company should have ended by now, or at least that is my understanding of the One MS strategy.

Mr. Nadella, take your mobile first commitment seriously! If your execs can't be team players, they need to go, Now!

i read those 7 articles in feb last year,tweeted them as well,although none of the ideas came to existance...but this could be a step in the right direction but the inclusion ofv android could be bad as its easy to sideload games for free on android degrading xbox live games

Not going to lie. I look at XBL games first. Its not the deciding factor in purchasing or playing a game but it helps if I can add a little to my Gamer score. I mostly play puzzle games so the bigger titles i usually pass on.

Good article. Enjoyed the series you mentioned from last year too. Shocking state of affairs is XBL on WP. So stupid that they will make the features available on rival platforms, I don't think they realise how big a selling point they had, the certification process wrecked that too. When I first saw adverts for Andriod phones on my 360 I knew there was something wrong.

Microsoft has great services and needs to start leveraging them to pump up windows phone.  Google hasn't created any of it's apps for WP, so they shouldn't be getting anything from MS.  Microsoft needs to start playing hardball.  They could even just concentrate on WP for now, then ios and android later.  I feel like they are stunting the growth of WP with these decisions.  Apple and Google will not stick their neck out for this platform so I do not feel that Microsoft should be giving away it's aces.   Outlook, Xbox Live, Office, Onedrive........you would think Microsoft would know that they have everything to go toe to toe with their competitors.  Just my opinion.  I love WP and want nothing but to see it go all the way to the top but it just feels like Microsoft keeps tripping over it's own feet.

I agree. MS is too generous towards other platforms that doesn't even give a rats ass about WP. Ignore Android and iOS for XBL and Office at least. And offer them low versions of OneDrive and Outlook and other services. All I really want is for the WP platform to exceed the others, not give its strengths away to them.

I like your style of writing Paul! Always enjoyable to read! May I ask, what case is on the phone in the headline picture?

Xbox Live is what drove me to WP7, and now, it is just a gimmick. I really hope the certification process gets easier and quicker, as right now, it sucks.

..."These days, the only Xbox games that appear on Windows Phone are published by Microsoft, EA or Ubisoft"...

That is just not true, and as the game guy here, you know it.

Hopefully they make it much easier and Windows Phone is flooded with Xbox Live titles... then maybe we won't have to hear your BS and all these people crying about it.

There are only 2 games released since last November that are XBL games not developed by those 3: Temple Run 2 and Final Fantasy III. And we don't know how long were they in certification.

A perfect article Paul!!!
Now I have some hope that someday (maybe this year) we will see again at least one week Xbox WP release.
After this framework start to works, is possible to see games already released to become live enabled?? I dream with that! We have so many great games in our platform that deserve to be Xbox Live enabled!!

Come on, where is where is Xbox Live for my PS4, PS3 and my future Apple console running iOS?
Can I have it to play with my Mac totting friends?
Remember that you are devices & services MSFT..is that right?

Microsoft never learns, xbox on wp is a unique selling point. Instead they push it harder they decide to go cross platform

This will not benefit windows phone in any way, game developers on android and ios still wont bring trending games to windows phone any sooner

Candy crush , killer kong , dumb ways to die, and worst yet all our benefits will go to android and ios. They are not convincing any one to stay on windows phone by doing this , why buy a windows phone when i could get everything i need on android and ios, and not have to wait an entire year for a popular app or game to come out

It would/will benefit Windows Phone in that people would be making Xbox games for the platform again. That's pretty big, even if the other platforms get the same benefit.

That is the same argument for Nokia x, Paul. And I give the same response. How on earth would we get new users if they can get our features on another and more mature platform than windows phone

With all due respect Paul. What you are saying makes no sense at all. This will be the final nail in the coffin for WP at least in developed countries. There would be absolutely no stand out feature in WP that would appeal to consumers.

ROFLMAO...Apple will release a iOS gaming based Apple TV..all those Xbox enabled games will be running on that device. Xbox 360 and Xbox One consoles will get the benefit, right?

I get what you are saying Paul, but why give away such a great advantage to ios and android? Do you really think that Microsoft can't fix the ridiculous certification system and incentivate developers without also puting it on android and ios.

I don't think that Microsoft couldn't fix the certification process without opening it up to other platforms. Of course they could. But for more than 3 years they've chosen not to do so.
The impetus for the revamp is they can make more money by selling Xbox games on iOS and Android too. As I said, that's bad. But the Xbox WP situation is so terrible already that this will still improve things.

Disagree.  What is to stop any developer from updating their current ios/android game(s) with xbox live and that's it? The dev wins as he's giving his audience more features, MS wins because (more) users are using their service.  WP users see no benefit as the dev's game(s) are still not on the platform.

Likelihood of bringing games to WP at all will remain the same. But the number of WP games that support Xbox Live instead of being non-Xbox will greatly increase (if the certification relaxes enough).

So you are agreeing Paul, that the strategy of making Xbox Live crossplatform will not benefit WP in any way. You also reiterate that relaxing certification will make more WP games support Xbox live; so I ask you again....how is making Xbox Live cross Platform of any benefit to MS and WP?

No I'm not agreeing. More Xbox WP games benefits WP gamers. Many WP gamers want more Xbox games, so the benefit is obvious. Obviously it's not as great a benefit as mopbile Xbox wasn't going cross-platform, but it's still better than the situation we've had for the last year or more.

If you look at this locally, your statement is true. With a more global view you would come to the conclusion that other platforms would benefit more.

Now the question is, if Microsoft should make endevors which ultimately push other platforms more than its own. I do not think this is the right way going forward unless your goal is to kill WP eventually.

Why would developers waste their time developing for the 50 million WP users if they can just develop for the almost a billion android and iPhones users?! They will port their games to WP like they do now, much much much later.

Too bad this is only happening so Microsoft can weaken WP further by releasing Xbox live to its competitors. Why not just can the platform, they wouldn't care anyway. What a waste.

I completely and vehemently disagree that MS should cater to iOS and Android as far as Xbox live is concerned as that will be to the detriment of Windows Phone. If by the authors logic, there are powerful forces at MS that don't care for WP, why should the consumer. Heck, why even bother creating WP in the first place!?! MS should simply pack up their bags and leave the mobile space to the big boys (aka Apple and Google) who actually give a damn about their consumers and produce a quality product. And NO, opeining up Xbox live to Andoid and iOS is not a 'necessary evil'.....it is downright retarded! How is that related to improving the insane mess of Xbox live certification? This simply provides yet one more reason for consumers to pass over WP (which btw is already deficient in features as it is; and now whatever little exclusive features it does have, its giving away).

I honestly believe that windows phone won't be here much longer. I mean, ALL those things that made windows phone a unique product are being killed.

I had a dream of WP becoming a major player in the next years (20% market share should be enough). The momentum made me believe so, but MS instead of pushing forward the momentum is killing it and most features that make WP unique... Such a waste...

How about MS just makes it incredible simple (and possible) to use a 360 or One controller with WP?  Big reason I don't game much on my phone anymore is that it still isn't really simple to use a controller. 

I've never really seen the appeal of Xbox as a gamer. You earn achievements, but don't really get anything but bragging rights. If they did something like they do with Bing, allow to redeem for prizes, it might be more appealing. Then having to pay just for basic online multiplayer just doesn't jive with me. As a brand I can see its value, but the way it is right now on WP, its just beings tarnished.

Because, AS A GAMER, I like a record of the things I've accomplished across my gaming "career" and a way to compare what I or my friends have done, see new challenges to go after etc. It's enhanced the gaming in such a way I won't game without it.

What Starstrider said. Also, gamers should be pretty familiar and open to the concept of score. Achievements give you GamerScore which applies to your entire profile instead of only one game, and that score is publicly viewable by all. There's no mystery to how that benefits people who like score, leaderboards, and competition.

The main thing which should happen is banning android,sueing them etc. Apple and Microsoft should be only the two mobile operating system.

Pretty soon when someone buys an android phone they'll have all the apps from android, plus the ones from google, plus Skype, all the Bing apps, all Xbox games and probably even Microsoft office, plus the all important WPCentral.
I can already see the lines forming to buy a windows phone, NOT.

Agreed. WP will have no selling point (it has little as it is). I wonder who the feeble minded execs at MS came up with this idea. There is a right way and a wrong way of doing things and the geniuses at MS are going about this all wrong. Build a better mouse trap and the world will beat a path to your doorstep ( DON'T give the mousetrap for free to all your competitors).

Reduce certification and restrictions so indie devs can put achievements and multiplayer. But no cross platform. Do you thin apple would put game centre on WP or would google bring play games to WP. No. Also it's free to play xbox multiplayer on windows phone.

"There are important people inside Microsoft with iPhones and android" ?? Who are ?? Shame on them, go out of Microsoft today !!!

If MS need Beta testers for mobile LIVE games, then they should try asking some of its active community like its has done on the 360 betas and is doing at the moment with the XOne. I'd happily do some testing.

Maybe someone should make an achievement and multiplayer server for indie games like they did with iOS before game centre come into play and show Microsoft off

Sadly this frame work is 3 years late (if they announce it at build). Should've been announced with wp7. Better late than never I guess. It would be naive to think that every single employee at MS solely uses wp. As without experiencing your competitors products how will you ever improve your own so that it stands out from the crowd. Anyway hopefully with this reorg we should see more departments collaborating together.

No interest in cross platform, open source(that's for Android garbage), or non-XBL games. Wrong direction if you ask me, XBL games should he a selling point and they should be pushing that, not watering down exclusive features of WP.

The change needs to happen but I'll believe it when I see it.  The only reason I got a WP was for games with achievements and thus far I have been sorely dissapointed.

The concern is going to obviously be if the changes take too long. I mean, they made it so bad that horror stories are the norm and multiple development teams have abandonded it. Will telling developers it's better convince them? I'm not sure. they're adjusting to life without the certification process, so will they want to risk headaches to go back?

 

Personally, I'll still not buy any games without LIVE because I want to reward the effort. However, I can't blame developers for not wanting to put up with it.

An honest question...how many younger Gen Y and Gen Z kids care about XBL? The only people I know of who are even aware of XBL are guys in their 20s and 30s, i.e. those of us who had an Xbox and/or Xbox 360. The younger lot don't seem to have as many console gamers, and the number's thinning out as you climb down the ladder. The whole cross-platform bit might be a good idea in that more iOS/Android XBL titles may pull a younger crowd to the Microsoft eco-system...slowly, but surely.

Oh yeah, the younger crowd, the one with all the purchasing power and the maturity to discern when offering your gonads to the NSA in order to play with retarded birds for free is not acceptable. Fantastic idea.

I think the worst thing would be for Microsoft to be - or remain depending on your perspective - marginalized among developers and a large portion of mobile customers. If more developers are using MS tech and services then that can only increase awareness among mobile customers and its presence in the mobile development community. Android and iOS already have their own game frameworks, keeping Xbox Live small and exclusive to Windows Phone will only make it irrelevant for the mobile market.

If Xbox Live is the only differentiator for Windows Phone, then it is not surprising that it is not doing very well in a lot of major markets. I think the new updates and features coming - such as Cortana - will drive more people to Windows Phone than Xbox Live ever did.

Microsoft is being very shrewd in trying to build out the reach of their services. The number one hesitation I read about when people are thinking of switching to Windows Phone is that they absolutely need to have Google services - Microsoft needs to become that service that people need if they expect to get a better foothold in mobile.

 

Xbox Live *could* be a great selling point for WP, but it has to be properly supported and advertised by Microsoft, and there need to be lots and lots of games that use it. None of those things really happened - they designed the integration half-heartedly and in 2012 stopped giving it what little support they started with.

For those of you who care about Xbox on Windows Phone and Windows 8, particularly in that it is a distinguishing and exlusive feature, why not help out the #SaveXboxWP movement? The goals are to convince Microsoft to ease the certification process, open up more possibilities for self-publishing, and encourage more Xbox game development. Details are here. You can also vote in Uservoice here.

Not just the certification process, but actual selection of games. Ignoring Hardware limitations and differences for a moment, there are 4 distinct XBL game stores: Xbox 360, Xbox One, Windows 8 and WP8. And hardly will you find one game that's available in all 4 stores, much less even 2!

I've mixed feelings on this. It's not a good move for Windows Phone as a platform since it makes it lose the last thing that differentiate it from other OSs apart from the tiles which aren't that loved by everybody.

On the other hand it seems to be the only way to make XBL games return to WP en force. Of course, Microsoft could have solved it sooner but they clearly didn't care about Windows Phone and probably still don't. I wouldn't be surprised if this was being done more for the services that xbox live would provide on Android and iOS (that bring revenue to MS) than for the sake of XBL games on WP.

So, from the point of view of someone who owns a Nokia running Windows Phone, this isn't good for the platform.

From the point of view of someone who only accepts to pay for XBL games, I like it because it means that there's a chance more XBL games will start to show up.

And finnally, from the point of view of someone who will be moving to Android once Nokia is gone, I'm thrilled to know that XBL games will start to arrive on Android too.

Haha... And they'll make it better on other platforms than their own WP. It really don't know what other MS apps are like other platforms but some have have said they're better.

If that's the market, then you've got to cater. From what I see Microsoft is using XBL to piggybackk off current iOS/Android development. In return for that XBL edge those developers/studios need to bring titles over to WP. That's two way growth (in WP's XBL library AND people using MS services).

"Opening up Xbox Live to iOS and Android is a necessary evil in order to actually get the mobile Xbox Live certification process straightened up and revive Xbox Windows Phone"

I disagree. Supporting an open-source framework that's easy for developers to use to make apps and port them easily to Windows Phone is a great goal, and beneficial to the platform.  But there's absolutely no benefit to the Windows Phone platform in allowing those same games to enjoy XBox Live integration on other platforms.  That, I feel, should still be made a Windows Phone exclusive perk - certification made far easier if those tools are used, of course, but Windows Phone needs to have some differentiation, and the "One Microsoft", unified ecosystem with XBox gaming (tying to Win8, XBox360, and XBox One) is one Microsoft should be leveraging.

About time. They really missed the boat on this. This is a brilliant way to get developers hooked into the xbox system. Just hope it isn't too late. They acted late on the PC side of things and lost out to steam. Game Center and the google thing don't offer such a luxury of cross platform. This is a great opportunity.

As usual, MS is a day late and a dollar short on these changes.  When my contract expires I most likely won't be getting another Windows Phone and I have been with Windows Phone since day 1.  Apple just seems to have their stuff together while MS is floundering in the dark.  There may be light at the end of the tunnel but I am afraid of another cave in.  I already am bailing on MS over the X1 to the PS4 and I much prefer the Xbox Live system to Sony's PSN.  But the reality is MS doesn't have a vision and are just seeing what sticks to the wall.  At times I see a vision developing but I am afraid it's going to come too late to matter.

The problem is that Microsoft dropped the ball on a lot of things to do with their o.s. Windows in general. I mean they are having problems getting people to stop using XP for crying out loud. Steve Ballmer damaged Microsoft so much, I don't know how Mr. Neydella will be able to bring it back to what it was in the 90's. Xbox Mobile is going in the right direction. But even I agree going cross platform is not good for WP. But Apple changed the industry and Android Saturated the market so much that Microsoft has no choice. The Xbox brand is also starting to be tarnished, with the Policies that were removed from Xbox one due to fan backlash, and Sony's big were all about games marketing for PS4. Xbox is the only console brand that has a mobile eco-system on smartphones with Indy and big name publishers. Sony has been trying to do this with PS Mobile on Android. But they mostly have indie games and it is mostly on Sony hardware. Microsoft has been talking a lot lately about making Windows free software and use Bing and other Microsoft brands to pay for it like google and apple do. If a cross platform Xbox mobile will help I say go for it. I mean when someone uses Google products on iPhone I bet some of that money from there goes to Android. Unlike blackberry (who only was in the phone and tablet business) Microsoft is more nimble like Google and Apple also are. So this helps the Xbox brand in many ways. It helps in the fight against Sony. It helps make the Xbox brand available to more people. WP get's helped by becoming free software to OEM's. Yes I agree Multiplatform Xbox mobile may hurt WP. But they have to rebuild what Steve Ballmer left for Microsoft to clean up.

No. No. No. No. No. First Skype and Onedrive. Then Office. Now Xbox Live. There is so little to differentiate operating systems to the average consumer and Xbox Live is one of the few exclusives left that customers associate with Microsoft/WP8. I am thrilled that certification process is being relaxed/revamped but opening up Xbox Live achievements to other platforms is essentially giving up. I really hope Satya Nadella puts a stop to this going cross platform crap.

I would really like a Destiny app for Windows Phone. I wouldn't mind either if they made a Destiny mini-game for the app, either.

Doom, Adult Swim, Halo 2 Anniversary App. :)