Even as Windows 8 and special treats have taken center stage over the past several press cycles, the Windows Phone team continues to plug along, releasing news of the forthcoming mobile operating system update at a leisurely pace.
Today at Gamescom in Germany, Microsoft outlined four new features that will come in Mango, and detailed 14 LIVE games that are forthcoming as well. Previously, we had written a post entitled “All the coming WP7 Games Hub updates detailed,” in which we thought that we had covered all the games-related Mango news. We were simply wrong.
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From the company’s blog post on the matter, here are the four upcoming features:
- Avatar Awardables: Like achievements—but wearable. Once unlocked, these items will automatically appear in your avatar closet and can be worn on your avatar’s sleeve as a badge of honor. “Chickens Can’t Fly,” a forthcoming Xbox LIVE release, will be among the first titles to feature them.
- Game Add-ons: In the Xbox LIVE title “Beards & Beaks,” players can purchase extra mushrooms and other items from within the game using Microsoft Points. In the months ahead, keep your eyes out for more titles in Marketplace that let you buy in-game add-ons and downloadable content like extra weapons or levels.
- Parental Controls: The next release of Windows Phone gives parents more control of what content their child can access on Windows Phone, including M-rated (Mature) games. The first M-rated Windows Phone title, “Splinter Cell: Conviction,” is scheduled to arrive in the Marketplace later this fall.
- Fast Async: A new Xbox LIVE service coming this fall that improves gameplay for multiplayer, turn-by-turn (or asynchronous) Windows Phone games.
We are not going to give you a description of each of the new games that Microsoft promised today, you can read about them here, but we will tell you their names: Beards & Beaks: Cave Area; Bug Village; Burn the Rope; Chickens Can’t Fly; Collapse!; Gravity Guy; Farm Frenzy 2; Fight Game Rivals; IonballEX; Kinectimals Mobile; Mush; Orbital; TextTwist 2; Toy Soldiers Boot Camp.
We don’t cover every new Mango revelation, as some are too small to warrant a full post, but as these games are LIVE integrated, they matter more. Why? Because a core demographic of people who Microsoft is hoping to convert to Windows Phone are Xbox 360 owners. This means that changes that tie Windows Phone and Xbox, usually via the LIVE conduit, are doubly important, as they not only improve the mobile line, they also add to its commercial viability.
Heading into the crucial holiday sales cycle, it is important to consider not simply the quality, or lack thereof (viewpoint depending), of Windows Phone, but also its chances for selling enough units to earn a seat at the ‘big boys’ mobile table, as the true measure of its success.
Final fact: According to Microsoft PR, some 70% of Windows Phone 7 handset owners have downloaded a LIVE game, showing how cross pollinated the two groups are.