After messing up the launch of the Xbox One, Microsoft has been on a charm offensive of late to win back gamers and bolster sales of its console.
The company has recently announced backward compatibility for Xbox 360 games to run on the Xbox One, while just this week Microsoft announced cross platform gaming and purchasing between Xbox and Windows 10.
However, like other major gaming brands (here’s looking at you Sony and Nintendo), Microsoft’s Xbox division has almost wholesale ignored the boom in mobile gaming.
It is a bizarre omission considering the money that can be made from mobile gaming, which is why we were pleased to see director of program management for Xbox, Mike Ybarra, discuss the company’s mobile gaming aspirations during a sit down with PCWorld.
Ybarra was pressed on Microsoft’s apparent ignorance of the mobile gaming sector, with the company’s Xbox division as yet to discuss any plans for mobile. He claimed the Windows 10 cross platform push will encompass mobile gaming, saying more specifically:
Absolutely. I think what it starts with is what we call the Universal Windows Platform. We’re going to start with our strengths—there are millions of Windows devices out there, but it’s not the hundreds of millions of devices that iOS has, and I don’t know how many Android has—but it’s a big number, right?
We can get UWPs on the PC and on the console—by definition the platform developers can very easily get it on the phone. And that’s kind of the vision: Don’t think about where you’re at, build your game, do a couple of tweaks and you’re going to see it run. Will you see Halo 18 run on this phone? No, so you gotta be smart about that. But we’ll invest in the mobile space as well.
And frankly, with Xbox, I want to focus on the gamer. So when I think about bringing Xbox Live to other platforms, we have Xbox Live on iOS and Android right now. Those are areas we want—if our gamers have those devices, we want them to be able to engage with our gaming platform, too.
Xbox One Hardware Upgrades
Ybarra’s comments on Microsoft’s mobile gaming plans came after Head of Xbox, Phil Spencer, spoke to The Verge at the Xbox Spring Showcase. Spencer was more interested in talking about the future of the Xbox One and how long it has before it become merely a legacy product.
The problem with consoles is they hold the same hardware over a generation that typically last more than half a decade, with only design updates changing the device. PCs move much faster, but Microsoft has often said the Xbox One is a Windows PC in disguise, and Spencer thinks the console has plenty of room for hardware improvement in coming years.
Bucking an industry standard, Spencer thinks this generation of consoles (he was speaking of Xbox, but must know Sony will aim for similar) will be the first where hardware updates occur within the lifespan of a product.
When you look at the console space, I believe we will see more hardware innovation in the console space than we’ve ever seen. You’ll actually see us come out with new hardware capability during a generation allowing the same games to run backward and forward compatible because we have a Universal Windows Application running on top of the Universal Windows Platform that allows us to focus more and more on hardware innovation without invalidating the games that run on that platform.
While Spencer was talking about a different subject to Ybarra, he did touch on the mobile space, and hinted that the hardware evolution in that industry could be an inspiration for Xbox moving forward.
We look at these other ecosystems out there like mobile, tablet and PC and we see that they have a very continuous evolution cycle in hardware, whereas between console generations most of the evolution is making it cheaper and potentially making it smaller.