Although it seemed like an obvious fit, for whatever reason Microsoft’s Xbox gaming division and its Windows Mobile division have heretofore been kept at arm’s length. Given competitor Apple’s roaring success with the iPhone as a portable gaming platform (recently winning our reader poll against Nintendo and Sony), and Microsoft’s comparative lack of a portable gaming strategy beyond a fledgling gaming focus for the Zune HD, this sector has been a hole waiting to be filled for some time.
Now that’s finally going to start happening, according to a recent job posting in Redmond, WA. The Principle Program Manager’s primary responsibility will be to further the following mission: “connecting players via the LIVE services on new devices beyond the console. We need a Principle Program Manager who can help drive the platform and bring Xbox LIVE enabled games to Windows Mobile.”
Another listing for a software test engineer focuses on mobile gaming as well. It seems clear Microsoft is finally making a push to get into the sector, certainly with the Windows Mobile platform and presumably with the Zune HD as well. The multi-device, multi-platform situation in the Microsoft camp will be a challenging one to simplify for consumers, and it will be interesting to see whether the company attempts to consolidate app marketplaces and content stores or whether devices will remain tethered to separate silos.
Will the Xbox Live Marketplace seamlessly integrate with the Windows Marketplace for Mobile, and will theZune HD get a more proper app store or be able to tap into either of the other two marketplaces? It sounds like Microsoft is hiring some management whose task it may be to answer some of these questions. However it works out, Xbox LIVE gamers may look forward to seeing more of the XBLA console experience finally take root in Microsoft’s mobile division, at long last.