Windows Phone: game avalanche!!!

Posted: July 19, 2014 by ryanlecocq in Features, Technology



Apparently somebody at Microsoft finally heard the complaints about the lack of games and apps in the marketplace.  Now granted, part of this is due to the platform being less popular than iOS or Android, but part of it is Microsoft’s fascist software submission process.  Apparently that has changed with the big shake up in Redmond, as apps, games and updates have been flooding the marketplace in the last few days.  Since this is the Bleeding Edge Gaming blog and not the Bleeding Edge Office Productivity blog, we’ll focus on the games.  Some of these games are new, while others have finally received much-needed updates to run on more phones.  I may have been a little irresponsible with charges to my AT&T bill as a result.


Indie beats Xbox

I guess there were just tons of developers sitting on their WP apps, waiting for Microsoft to loosen up on hurdles and fees, because the second the strictures were lifted, the floodgates opened.  The vast majority of the new games released were independent and not Xbox licensed games.  In fact, the quality and support of these is starting to make Microsoft’s officially supported developers look bad.  While titles from Microsoft and Gameloft still have game-breaking bugs at a high sticker price (here’s looking at you Order and Chaos, Marvel games), the independent ones seem to run pretty well with less crashes and more support for low RAM devices.  Playing excellent ports like Lost Echo makes one wonder how half a dozen developers can do what huge studios fail at; make a game that actually works.


Moga party

You may not know this, but the Android aimed Moga controller by Power A is actually compatible with your Windows Phone.  The downside is that developers don’t seem to know this either.  In fact the toolkit for it is right there on the manufacturer’s website, so any WP game could easily add support for the wireless controllers at any point.  Fortunately, the arguably most important gaming apps, SNES and GBA emulators, have perfect Moga support.  If you have not played Final Fantasy VI, Chrono Trigger or Metroid Fusion, stop complaining about the lack of WP games right now and go play them.  That should solve your game issue for a solid couple of months and I guarantee there are no mobile games on any platform that are better than those gems.  Even a few Gameloft games like Asphalt and Dungeon Hunter 4 support Moga, but the list is short.  Hopefully we’ll see future updates for games like Halo: Spartan Assault and GTA: San Andreas as playing them with touch controls is borderline painful compared to playing on other systems.


Finally something is on sale besides Halo

One of the biggest drawbacks of the WP market vs. competitors is the lack of sales on anything but Microsoft apps in the past.  Rarely would anything non first party go on sale.  Recently that has changed as not only have other apps hit the Red Stripe weekly deals, but other discount programs have started to hit WP simultaneous with iOS and Android.  I picked up Spectral Souls and Lost Echo half-off and got the very entertaining Battleloot Adventures for free.  Although it may not seem like selling already lagging products at a discount helps the devs, the opposite is often true.  If people own devices on multiple platforms and always see higher prices on Windows, they will buy the same apps on iOS or Android.  The more apps people decide to buy on their Windows devices, the more they will gravitate to those devices when they want to be entertained.  I experience this constantly; when I have been playing more on my PS3 recently vs. my PC, I will turn on my PS3 first to check for PS+ sales.  The more games I have on my bucket list already installed on that platform, the more likely I am to turn it on and potentially buy more games and DLCs as they are advertised to me on the menus.  So in the long run, being perceived as equally cost-effective can only be good for Microsoft when it comes to apps and games.


Are you not entertained?

To the end user, the number of apps available on one platform vs. another is not as important if there are enough to keep them happy.  For example, when the Nintendo 64 came out, the only game worth playing for many months was Mario 64.  This wasn’t an issue though as everyone was happy to play Mario 64 for months.  Nintendo owners were willing to sacrifice several Final Fantasy games to be able to play Zelda: OOT.  Basically I’m saying that quality can beat quantity as long as your device can keep you busy enough that you never look for more.  At the moment, there are several excellent games like Halo:SA which are only on WP.  There are also some excellent ports from iOS, like Lost Echo, which are not available on Android.  If Microsoft can keep up a steady dribble of these more full-sized games, users will be entertained enough to overlook the many bite-sized games that Android offers exclusively.


Can we get an update, please?

The biggest problem with cross-platform titles on WP is the lagging updates vs. other platforms.  Gameloft especially is notorious for this.  Several of their major games are months to years behind versions on other platforms and some even have game-breaking bugs which haven’t been addressed.  The most frustrating part is that it’s often support for new devices that lags.  How angry would it make you to buy an expensive new phone, just to find out none of your games work because the developer was too lazy to add support for full HD screens?  Yeah, welcome to Windows Phone.  Hopefully this is just the result of Microsoft’s previously too-strict update submission process.  Now that Microsoft has decided to get with the program and loosen up, I hope to see these overdue updates at a similar rate to the new apps and games that are hitting the marketplace.


Overall, I’m happy to report that this is another area in which my Windows Phone has pleased me very much recently.  For over a year, the only game I had installed was Order and Chaos, which I very much regretted buying.  In the past 2 weeks, I’ve added over 20 games to that list and have seen the end of boredom on my breaks at work.  Combined with new apps for everything from video and picture editing to translation and music services and my WP is much more app savvy than ever before.  I just read a great article on BGR ( where I learned a wonderful new term that describes me very well: a gadget contrarian.  I still play my Sega Dreamcast constantly and even own a Virtual Boy and an Onlive MicroConsole, so I think I’m squarely in that category.  Most of the time though, I’m ahead of the crest of the wave, enjoying what others will eventually come around to adopt.  Hopefully this is one of those times.  Although many people who don’t use on have nothing nice to say about Windows Phones, from the inside the future seems pretty bright.







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