In its public job posting, Microsoft claims that this position will help to “create a modern framework” that will be “scalable across various platforms including Windows Store, Windows Phone, iOS and Android.” With a very specific focus on gaming, it’s not a huge leap to assume this project will directly tie into the existing Xbox Live ecosystem. Previous attempts have already been made to bring Xbox Live functionality to Windows and Windows Phone, so it’s no surprise that Microsoft is doing the same thing for the titans of the smartphone world.
On the surface, this all seems like a logical next step for Microsoft. Expand your brand, reach as many people as possible, and you’re good to go, right? Unfortunately, this is most assuredly doomed for failure. Both iOS and Android have baked-in game services, and Microsoft’s follow-through has been terrible in terms of expanding its core Xbox services to other devices.
Take a look at Games for Windows Live. Even with support from big-name titles like Grand Theft Auto IV and BioShock, the service never took off. Microsoft largely ignored the service for much of its existence, and then unceremoniously announced its death in mid-2013. The “GFWL” experience was awful from start to finish, and that was on Microsoft’s own platform. Nobody is going to be shocked if Microsoft offers the exact same level of support for iOS and Android.
Regardless of Microsoft’s past, smartphones and tablets don’t need yet another gaming service. Apple already has Game Center, Google has Google Play Game Services, and Amazon has its own implementation called GameCircle. Developers can easily implement these solutions into their games right from the core development tools, and users won’t have to sign up for a third-party service.
Leaderboards, achievements, friends lists, and save-syncing already exist on these platforms. Unless Redmond has something new and exciting up its sleeve, there’s no reason for a developer to use Microsoft’s service instead of the native solution. Slapping an Xbox Live logo on your Flappy Bird clone isn’t going to solve anything. If the development team thinks releasing an also-ran service will help revitalize the damaged Xbox brand, they’re in for a rude awakening.