Editorial: Xbox Live on cell phones: more than messaging

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I have been extremely busy this week. But let’s give our first editorial a shot.

As Microsoft’s “Live Anywhere” promise continues to grow, I began to ask myself why my Xbox Live experience wasn’t as portable as I would like it to be. Then I asked myself what could be done to make it happen, what would make it great, and how Microsoft could best approach it.

Let me begin by saying Xbox.com is a great start to what I want. Among my favorite things are being able to check in on my online friends, as well as read and send messages to them. My first question is: why can’t I do it from my cell phone?

Now, it’s true, that if you have a smart phone or some other web-enabled device, you can generally travel to Xbox.com and use those features. iPhone & Android users even have a similar application that would allow these communication methods. But why can’t I go to my mobile phone’s built in store and get an official Microsoft made application for viewing my friend’s lists and messaging my friends? Why not even allow voice messaging? After all, a cell phone is sort of designed just for that!

Okay, but this argument has been made before. What makes my little whine-fest any different? Well, I want more. I want a true xbox experience available on my cellular phone. I want the games. Sequels, spin offs, and even 3rd party ports of tons of Xbox games are on cell phones. More game studios are going multiplatform, and casual games, like those found on the Xbox Live Arcade, are generally put on Xbox Live after they’ve become popular through some other method, like the PC. Still, having an “Xbox Live Arcade” app would absolutely make money. Not every Arcade game has to be available through this method, but the minute you give me the choice between Zuma on my cell phone, and Zuma on Xbox Live Arcade for my cell phone… suddenly we’re talking something different.

How different, you ask? I want achievement points. Mobile achievements. If I load up Contra, Street Fighter II, or Tetris Splash on my cell phone, and have the ability to earn 50, or even the same 200 Gamerscore – I might never put my cell phone down. If Microsoft managed their portfolios correctly, developers would be clamoring to get their Xbox Live Arcade game, which would sell better with achievements, on the new Xbox Live Mobile platform.

Of course, I’m not suggesting that the game is exclusive to Xbox Live members, or that the achievements would have to be enabled for people who wouldn’t even know what gamerscore is. Still, just having the option available for people to log in to their Live accounts and perhaps benefit a little bit for it – that could lead to increased sales of games for people who might overlook mobile games – the Gamerscore junkies! Meanwhile, the game plays and looks the same (as much as possible), as to not alienate non Xbox members from picking up the game on their mobile-carrier’s download service.

Sounds nice, but what about the execution? With Google’s Android debuting on T-Mobile, and the iPhone launching on AT&T – why wouldn’t Microsoft pair up with Verizon to make this happen? As more and more people are jumping ship away from Sprint, Verizon wireless makes perfect sense. They already have a well designed music store, as well as their “Get It Now” service (I believe they are phasing out the name, but the framework for the service is cemented in place). It seems like it would not be an impossible transition and would open up an entirely new platform to us gamer-geeks who already have cell phones!

So, now that I’ve written a small book – how do you feel about it? Would you rather they launch it on your cell phone carrier? Should it only work on Windows Mobile phones? What do you think? I encourage you to register and comment!