Microsoft is showing just how dedicated it is to bringing its services to what have been historically considered rival platforms with the announcement that Xbox Live is coming to iOS and Android. While you won't be playing Xbox One games on your mobile device just yet, soon you'll find mobile games using the XBL services that run underneath apps to make the magic work. Here's Tom Warren at The Verge to explain:
Microsoft is bringing its Xbox Live network to iOS and Android devices. The software giant is launching a new cross-platform mobile software development kit (SDK) for game developers to bring Xbox Live functionality to games that run on iOS and Android. Xbox Live features like achievements, Gamerscore, hero stats, friend lists, clubs, and even some family settings will all be available on iOS and Android.
It’s all part of a bigger push from Microsoft to make its Xbox games and services available across multiple platforms. Game developers will be able to pick and choose parts of Xbox Live to integrate into their games, and it will all be enabled through a single sign-in to a Microsoft Account. Microsoft is using its identity network to support login, privacy, online safety, and child accounts.
I'm reminded of Apple's now-moribund Game Center initiative that basically sat on top of certain iOS games for a while, awarding achievements and tracking leaderboard scores that were quickly gamed and that nobody cared about when all was said and done. Now, however, considering that Xbox Live has some cachet in the industry and a proven record of providing a variety of useful services, this could be just the kick that mobile gaming needs to take things to the next level. A wide variety of XBL-like services for mobile games have come and gone over the years, most of them startups jumping on the next big thing and wiping out spectacularly. Microsoft has the staying power to make this work provided that they actually stick with it.