I have an Xbox 360 with Kinect, and have a few games such as Kinect Adventures, Kinect Sports, and Halo Reach that are very character-driven. The Xbox Live profile includes an avatar that you can dress up and buy things like pets and accessories for. It’s an entire ecosystem within the overall Xbox ecosystem, and it’s tragically left as a wide-open door, specifically when you look at the mobile opportunity.
I have an HTC HD7 that I sometimes use, which is powered by Windows Phone. There is an Xbox Live application that lets me see my avatar, messages, and manage a few other things around my profile. I can also buy games that often have achievements for me to unlock, and this all builds up my overall Xbox Live profile. However, there’s still something missing (and I’ve talked about this about 4 years ago)
There are many games, such as Kinect Sports or EA Sports’ golfing games where you start with a rather basic character and you build their capabilities the more you play. With Kinect Sports, it’s your avatar – you increase their capabilities as you complete more and more challenges or win more matches. With EA Sports’ golfing game (such as PGA Tour: The Masters) you have a golfer who starts out rather humbly, but gains more power, greater accuracy, and a better wardrobe as you play through various courses. Racing games are another great example of this.
When will the gaming industry see the opportunity to connect the console and mobile experience through these ‘buildable’ characters? What if when I bought EA Sports’ Tiger Woods ’12, it came with a code to download ‘Tiger Woods ’12 Trainer’ to my Windows Phone device? This side-app would download my character from EA’s servers and let me practice my putting game while standing in line at the grocery store, or hit the driving range while my wife drives us to her mom’s house for dinner. The improvements gained on my phone would then sync back to my player when I fire up my Xbox 360, so the whole experience is complete.
It’s such a simple solution, but I have yet to see a console game ship with a code for a free mobile download. Most of the big development houses like EA have mobile divisions – is it really so difficult to get them to talk to the console team? The benefit for the developer, too, is that they’re creating additional ways for me to interact with their product, in different ways than I have before.
If Windows Phone is going to take over the world the way Nokia and Microsoft hope it does, they’re going to have to get creative and tie the whole experience together. Just keep the N-Gage folks out of the room and you’ll be fine.