Microsoft Gets It

Commentary: Interactive gaming is becoming a pervasive part of modern society. For good or ill, we'll all be gamers someday.

Microsoft gets it.

I never thought Id actually write those three words. However, Im not talking about operating systems or Windows Media. Im talking about games—and not just about the Xbox 360, but lets begin there, anyway.

For people who dont own an Xbox 360, the killer app for the Xbox 360 isnt any one game. The killer app is Xbox Live. For people who own the original Xbox, and not the 360, Xbox Live was a messaging system that allowed gamers to see whether their friends were online and to set up multiplayer games easily.

But Xbox Live on the 360 is more elegant, with a slick interface that allows users to connect to other users simply, to download game demos and updates, and to buy stuff.

The killer app for Xbox Live is one of the subsets of buying stuff—Xbox Arcade. Xbox Arcade is probably worth the price of getting an Xbox 360 all by itself.

Xbox Arcade extends gaming to people who dont play hardcore games. You may not be remotely interested in Halo 3, but pixelStorms, Bankshot Billiards and Bejeweled 2 will appeal to people in your house who may normally regard a game pad as an artifact from an alien civilization.

In addition to these so-called "casual games", small games from independent studios show up, like Geometry Wars and Outpost Kaloki X.

Now Microsoft aims to evolve Xbox Live into Live Anywhere. Check Jason Crosss article on how Live Anywhere will work over PC and cell phone connections.

Whats really significant is Microsofts willingness to port to cell phones that dont use Microsoft software. Thats good, since most phones use still use Symbian. Microsoft is even using—*gasp*—Java, as a development tool for Live Anywhere on mobile phones.

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