MGC: Microsoft Reveals new 'Live Anywhere' Details
More info comes out, but more questions go unanswered, as well...
(Mobile Games Conference coverage sponsored by Glu Mobile)
Microsoft Casual Games GM Chris Early's Live Anywhere keynote presentation at the Mobile Games Conference was very similar to what the company showed off at BREW last month - several powerpoint slides were even repeated. In some ways this repetition of information underscores the company's slightly shifted message - Live Anywhere isn't about individual platforms or Operating Systems; Microsoft hopes to be as inclusive as possible.
Early noted that it's too early to make an official announcement about mobile languages likely to be supported by Live Anywhere, but did list Java, BREW, and Symbian as likely OS candidates for the app (he stressed that the service is an app, and not a WAP page).
For those who didn't attend (or read about) E3, BREW, or MGC, Live Anywhere is Microsoft's solution to the fragmented, confusing community landscape currently found in mobile and in the PC casual games space. Gamers have a single user identity across all their titles, a universal community, a common digital object economy, and more. According to MS, this will allow for a better shopping experience, better game discovery methods, and better communication. Send and receive messages or challenges, queue up Xbox 360 downloads with your mobile phone, and complete in-game goals to up your "gamerscore" on your cross-game "gamercard" (or profile).
"Live Anywhere isn't just about games, however. It's about created a truly connected community." Early said. "Imagine owning Forza Motorsport 2 on the Xbox 360 and being able to add or remove car parts on your phone, customize your paint scheme on your PC, and then race that car when you get home that evening. Or using your mobile device to sign up for a tournament happening later that night or weekend."
Based on the demo we saw, we're inclined to agree with Early that Live Anywhere is likely to significantly increase the mobile community experience. Microsoft has repeatedly stressed the inclusive nature of the product, which is another encouraging factor.
"We intend to open up the API to individual developers so it isn't just large publishers who are able to take advantage of Live Anywhere," Early said.
Still, it's worth noting that Live Anywhere is still very much a vision, and not yet a reality. Microsoft hasn't announced any sort of pricing for the service, and is in fact still sorting out with carriers how billing will be handled. No partnerships with carriers, publishers, or OS licensors (BREW excluded) have yet been announced. Whether Microsoft is able to take their vision and create a reality that players on all sides will be pleased with remains to be seen.