In January 2013 Microsoft announced its decision to bring Xbox games to Windows 8 devices. The service is being branded as Microsoft Play (perhaps inspired by Google’s Play store brand for Android) the service is designed to bring Xbox Live Arcade games to users running Windows 8 and Windows RT devices.
It’s all part of Microsoft’s grand plan to work with a range of developers on making a number of games accessible and playable across all of its different devices; so certain games will be available on the Microsoft console Xbox 360, Microsoft’ latest version of Windows, Windows 8, Windows RT (which includes the Microsoft Surface) and Windows Phone 8 (such as the much promoted Nokia Lumia 920).
What is Microsoft Play and What can it Offer to Windows Users?
Microsoft Play is the new brand being used to promote metro-style Xbox LIVE games.
Some games were available on the launch of Microsoft Play (after all, it’s no good launching a games platform that is void of any games!) but most of the games now available were added once the platform had gone live.
If you are a Windows 8 or RT user then the quickest and easiest way to find Microsoft Play games is to launch the Xbox Games app rather than heading to the Windows Store (yes, it would stand to reason that if Microsoft are serious about the brand then they need to make it more accessible from their own store!).
From the Xbox Games app then head to the Windows Games Store and you should discover the Microsoft Play platform. If you decide that you want to buy or download any of these games then the process will be handled by the Windows Store (again, Microsoft need to tidy up this process if they are going to reinforce the brand).
Repackaged Products or Something New to Bring to the Table?
Many of the games that are currently available through the Microsoft Play platform have in fact been available and accessible on Windows 8 devices prior to the launch of Microsoft Play. The only difference is that Microsoft has decided to place these games under a specialist umbrella for marketing purposes. It seems Microsoft’s main aim with the Play platform is to push forward it’s idea of multi device games; however, whether this is just repackaged products or Microsoft’s attempt to hold on to an ever changing gaming market is yet to be seen.
Clearly tablet and Smartphone devices have impacted console sales, (the PS3 only sold half as many units as the PS2 for example) so perhaps Microsoft are attempting to retain some of the market while they still have it, something that other console creators such as Sony could struggle to do.
Microsoft Play Games
At time of writing a number of games are available on the Play platform. These include:
- 4 Elements II Special Edition
- Hydro Thunder Hurricane
- Microsoft Mahjong
- Microsoft Minesweeper
- Microsoft Solitaire Collection
- Pinball FX2
- Reckless Racing Ultimate
- Rocket Riot 3D
- Skulls of the Shogun
- The Gunstringer: Dead Man Running
- Toy Soldiers: Cold War
One area where Microsoft Play could pull out some surprises (and not to mention punches) is the suggestion that the Microsoft Play platform could be a big player in the development of the successor to the Xbox 360.
It’s been suggested that the Xbox successor will be driving towards more downloadable content as it’s proving to be a big hit with users, so a pre-made multi device distribution platform for games would be a massive advantage.