Xbox Live is arguably Xbox’s biggest selling point. Not only is ‘Live’ innovative, but it has set the standard for internet gaming connectivity from the home-console. It’s evolved into a major feature of Microsoft’s gaming platform.
Microsoft has expertly included a mobile version of Xbox Live in its revolutionary new mobile OS. On every Windows Phone 7 device, there are a few tenants that must remain the same across the platform — and Xbox Live is one of them. Does it meet your expectations for how the ‘Live’ experience should be on your Windows Phone?
My first impression was that the interface was innovative and in many ways, convenient. It’s not an app, the way Apple and Android would define it. WP7 incorporates the use of ‘hubs’, which generally just make navigating the interface easier. The four pane-wide Live hub is designed extremely well, allowing you to quickly switch between seeing your latest achievement, any pending friend and game requests, updates on Xbox Live happenings, and most importantly, your games collection.
For better and for worse, you won’t actually spend much time within the gaming hub. It’s designed to quickly get you into a game, and that’s precisely what it does. Within the hub you can see your ‘Live’ avatar, although if you want to take advantage of Live’s other features, you’ll need to download a standalone “Xbox Live Extras” app from the Marketplace. There you can customize your avatar and message friends.
Microsoft has created a gaming marketplace for mobile phones that’s easier to use than the Apple and Google counterpart by including (within the hub) a dedicated gaming store. To summarize the general features of the hub in three words, ‘ease of use’ comes to mind. The whole point of hubs in the first place is to make navigation and setup an easier process. In this respect, WP7 has definitely succeeded.
By far, the biggest problem that’s severely hindering Xbox Live on WP7 is the lack of quality games. The games simply aren’t available yet, and games like “The Harvest” aren’t exactly marquee titles.
The iPhone is set to get games that run on Unreal Engine 3. The PSP has a new God of War coming this holiday season. And in a few months, Nintendo will have a gaming device that shoots 3D into your eyes. What does Windows Phone have?
A fantastic hub. Unfortunately for Windows Phone 7, the foundations for a revolutionary mobile gaming device exist, but the lack of gaming innovation is severely lacking. If mobile gaming is a priority for you at this moment, it’s hard to recommend purchasing a device for Xbox Live. However, if you’re an Xbox enthusiast that just can’t wait for ‘Live’ to go mobile, Microsoft has finally provided some fantastic reasons to be hopeful.