updated 12:40 am EDT, Tue August 17, 2010
WP7 launch games include Halo, Castlevania
Microsoft this evening set out to make Windows Phone 7 a higher-end game experience by detailing some of the first 50 launch titles. Its smartphone OS will trade on major game names but will sometimes use them as companions that tie into full Xbox games. Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst will be a full game acting as a side story; Halo: Waypoint will tie into the universe, but will primarily be used for community and video viewing.
Other major experiences onboard will include Castlevania, Guitar Hero and Star Wars titles. Microsoft is promoting a level of casual games such as its self-developed ilomilo as well as Bejeweled, Rocket Riot, Uno and other games often borrowed from Xbox Live Arcade.
Microsoft is due to ship the first Windows Phone 7 devices to Europe in October and the US in November and should have most if not all of the launch titles available the same day or "shortly after."
The lineup reinforces a pledge to improve Microsoft's once ignored mobile gaming experience in WP7 beyond just the titles themselves. Xbox Live profiles and friends lists should transfer over to the smartphone and will be key to an always-on level of gaming closer to those like the Xbox 360's or to the still in development Apple GameCenter. Microsoft is aware of the pressure from the iPhone and plans a 'laser-focus on great games,' gaming director Kevin Unangst said.
It marks a sharp turnaround from the company's approach to Zune HD gaming, which started out with a few recognizable 3D and board games but quickly lost support from Microsoft both after lackluster Zune sales and the transition to WP7 as its centerpiece. The firm has been eager to catch up to Apple in support for apps and has taken to paying app developers guarantees to get WP7 ports, often focusing on iPhone games and hoping for cross-platform releases.