Print 36 comment(s) - last by ToxicTaZ.. on Mar 15 at 12:56 AM

Games on Windows Phone 7 Series should look gorgeous running at 480x800 resolution. Full shader support will be added via an update after the phone's initial release, which may allow for colorful 3D titles, like the one pictured in this Microsoft XNA PR shot.  (Source: Microsoft)

Game developers can craft titles for Windows Phone 7 Series either in Silverlight or using the XNA framework.  (Source: Erictric)
New device prepares to take on the iPhone for mobile gaming's crown

Mobile gaming was long dominated by Nintendo with Sony coming in a distant second.  That was until Apple stormed onto the scene with its iPhone and stole the show.  Today the iPhone is arguably mobile gaming's most influential platform.

Microsoft hopes to steal Apple's thunder when it releases Windows Phone 7 Series phones later this year.  This week Microsoft shared some details about what gaming on the new operating system will look like.

Unlike the Zune and Courier prototype, which are both powered by NVIDIA's Tegra, most Windows Phone 7 Series phones will use a Qualcomm SnapDragon chipset that contains a GPU from NVIDIA-rival AMD.  The GPU, the AMD Z430, features a unified pixel & vertex shader pipeline (based on the Xbox 360
Xenos GPU).

Unfortunately, developers won't be able to use the GPU's shaders in 3D game titles at launch.  However, an update to Direct 3D Mobile will provide this functionality sometime late this year or early next year.  Describes Microsoft's Shawn Hargreaves in a blog, "

The phone supports full hardware accelerated 3D, but we are not exposing programmable shaders in this release. Charlie Kindel summed up the reason for that in a great article about focus and priorities:
We will do a few things and do them very, very well; we are better off not having a capability than doing it poorly. There are always future versions.”
Instead of programmable shaders, we augmented the existing BasicEffect with four new configurable effects: SkinnedEffect, EnvironmentMapEffect, DualTextureEffect, and AlphaTestEffect. These are designed to run efficiently on the mobile GPU hardware, and I think do a good job of providing enough flexibility for developers to create awesome looking games, while also meeting our goals of being able to ship a robust and well tested product on schedule.

Microsoft is offering developers two screen resolutions -- a 480×800 (WVGA) display resolution and a 320×480 (HVGA).  The HVGA resolution will come post-launch as an update.  Developers can pick which resolution to run, and Microsoft is dictating that its handset partners use dedicated scaling hardware to prevent GPU resources from being gobbled up and to provide better quality scaling.  Touch input will automatically scale with whatever resolution you pick.  

For example, if a user with a WVGA phone fires up a HVGA iPhone port on a Windows Phone 7 Series phone with a high resolution screen, the hardware will seamlessly scale the game up.  This allows game developers flexibility and potentially better performance.  Describes Hargreaves, "480×800 is a lot of pixels! This is a great resolution for displaying text, browsing the web, etc, but it can be a challenge for intensive 3D games to render so much data at a good framerate. To boost performance, some games may prefer to render at a lower resolution, then scale up to fill the display."

According to a separate 
Joystiq interview with Xbox Live GM Ron Pessner and XNA Game Studio manager Michael Klucher, developers will have two options for writing games -- Silverlight (Microsoft's Flash competitor) or the XNA Game Studio and the XNA framework.  Developers can reuse assets, but they will have to port their efforts in Java or Flash to these new platforms.  Silverlight games will be fully able to access Microsoft's Xbox Live gaming service.

One final tidbit is that it sound like it will be ridiculously easy to use Microsoft XNA Game Studio to port Zune titles to Windows Phone 7 Series phones and vice versa.  States Microsoft, "Another big point is -- just like the portability piece we've shown here -- we've done some work internally and with some of the other Zune HD developers, and again, it's 90, 95 percent code reuse. Literally, in an hour or couple of hours, we're taking games that were written for Zune HD and putting them on the phone. We can do the same in reverse. Game Studio is a really powerful platform for portability between these different devices. We think there will be a series of developers that will want to target both platforms and Game Studio gives them a really great way of doing that."

While it may be a bit of work to port iPhone titles to Windows Phone 7 Series, it certainly seems like a tempting target, given its ability to exploit higher screen resolutions and likely larger amounts of texture memory.  This is good news for Windows Phone 7 Series, as a lot of the iPhone's popularity has been due to its gaming success.

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THE most influential platform?
By thekdub on 3/12/2010 10:21:59 AM , Rating: 5
Today the iPhone is arguably mobile gaming's most influential platform.

Because Nintendo hasn't had any influence in the mobile gaming market in the last 15-20 years.

Maybe you should change the statement to "Today the iPhone is arguably one of mobile gaming's most influential platforms" and give credit where credit is due. Nintendo has almost single-handedly shaped mobile gaming as we know it with the Gameboy and DS systems.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By ksherman on 3/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: THE most influential platform?
By Murst on 3/12/2010 10:50:38 AM , Rating: 5
Ok, so today , nintendo has almost 130 million DSes out there. They are also selling at least 1 million DSes a month. I think Nintendo is doing just fine.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By Drag0nFire on 3/12/2010 10:55:14 AM , Rating: 2
And I could be wrong, but I believe GameBoy sales still outnumber iDevices 10 to 1.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By ET on 3/12/2010 12:35:52 PM , Rating: 1
A brief googling gave me 8.7 million iPhones and about 12 million DS for the last quarter of 2009, so it's nowhere near 10 to 1. Still a lead for Nintendo, but the iPhone certainly looks like a force to be reckoned with.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By The0ne on 3/12/2010 1:37:39 PM , Rating: 4
True, but DS is all for gaming whereas what percentage of iPhone users use them to play game and for the same amount of time.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By Shining Arcanine on 3/12/2010 2:31:14 PM , Rating: 3
That is 12 million sold in 3 months, versus 8.7 million sold over all of time. There is a significant difference between those two figures.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By Samus on 3/12/2010 3:54:14 PM , Rating: 2
If by influental, they mean adult, than it's a plausable arguement...because on an airplane or at the office, adults are always playing games on their iPhone. Not a DS.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By dark matter on 3/12/2010 11:57:08 AM , Rating: 5
So I am going to give a phone worth hundreds of dollars to my 7 year old along with a 24 month airtime contract instead of a DS.

Yeah, right.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By invidious on 3/12/10, Rating: 0
RE: THE most influential platform?
By The0ne on 3/12/2010 1:39:42 PM , Rating: 5
It helps them learn to use computers more so than a gameboy would.

I would 100% disagree.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By OoklaTheMok on 3/12/2010 2:26:12 PM , Rating: 5
But for $20-$40 you also get better games. A handheld game system simply has better controls and interaction for gaming than an iDevice. I having been waiting patiently for some comparably "good" games to come to the mobile device market. I'm done waiting and I will be getting a DSi XL at the end of this month.

RE: THE most influential platform?
By afkrotch on 3/15/2010 12:32:18 AM , Rating: 2
I'm not one for the DS, but yes. A mobile device who is targeted for gamers, with other features added will be better than something else where gaming is just an extra.

I have a PSP and I can say. Having a d-pad and analog stick is going to be much better than having nothing more than just touchscreen.

Most of my games on PSP are fighters, where the d-pad is essential.

Does AMD even make the z430?
By sciwizam on 3/12/2010 10:34:29 AM , Rating: 2
I thought they sold their mobile division (Imageon?) to Qualcomm.

RE: Does AMD even make the z430?
By GeekBrains on 3/12/2010 11:02:37 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly! I was under the same impression too..Didn't they sell it in the second quarter of 2008?

RE: Does AMD even make the z430?
By HrilL on 3/12/2010 12:38:38 PM , Rating: 3
That is what I thought too. But maybe that was their most recent design when they sold it to Qualcomm? And Qualcomm kept the same name... Sure would be nice to get some details on this.

By Elementalism on 3/12/2010 6:17:16 PM , Rating: 2
I dont think they do.

The z430 was shown by AMD in 2007. It isnt exactly a new GPU either.

RE: Does AMD even make the z430?
By calguy on 3/14/2010 11:52:20 PM , Rating: 2
Apparently they didn't sell all of their handset assets.


David Wu - Global Crown Capital

Bob, the last question is this: The hand-held is $23 million. Now the part that is not sold to Qualcomm, I guess, is going to stay with you. Can you give us an idea of how big that number will be for the rest of this year?


Robert J. Rivet

It'll stay in that current zip code. It's really on an end-of-life, supporting existing customers there were designed in from that product. We're not putting any new engineering to continue to elongate the product line, but it'll be in that $20 million per quarter zip code for awhile.

Come on Apple
By pequin06 on 3/12/2010 10:01:12 AM , Rating: 5

RE: Come on Apple
By therealnickdanger on 3/12/2010 11:56:09 AM , Rating: 4
They still have to patent time travel, sue Robert Zemeckis, then use the money to go back in time and patent "technology in general". It sounds like a paradox, I know, but that's only because our feeble human minds can not comprehend the wisdom of "teh Jobz".

By Yawgm0th on 3/12/2010 11:43:35 AM , Rating: 4
Today the iPhone is arguably mobile gaming's most influential platform.
By what metric? Who is arguing this?

Do you actually believe the things you write?

RE: Crown
By ET on 3/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Crown
By The0ne on 3/12/2010 1:44:07 PM , Rating: 4
You can search for what I'm about to say as I remember reading something along the same lines recently. Aliens are kidnapping and making hybrid babies for an eminent invasion of our home planet.

I'm speaking the truth of course because I'm writing it. Jason is doing the same thing so I don't blame him. I'm sure he's done his research like his many other reports. And I'm 100% sure he's right in all of them.

/sarcasm off

By z0d on 3/12/2010 8:03:43 PM , Rating: 2
For example, if a user with a WVGA phone fires up a HVGA iPhone port on a Windows Phone 7 Series phone...
I have to wonder what kind of drugs they're taking at MS. iPhone games are written in Objective-C, or C/C++ with parts in Obj-C. Also, Xbox360 games are written in C/C++. How exactly do they think that people are going to port iPhone games to C#? Also, how do they expect professional game developers to write games for WP7? C# is a different language than C/C++. Are they providing a C/C++ SDK? Not that I know of. Are they providing some magical tool that will rewrite your C/C++/Obj-C code to C#? I doubt it. Game developers will have tens of thousands of lines of engine and game code that will not be able to be compiled for WP7, not to mention having to learn a new language (even if it's similar to C++)... and also not even thinking about rewriting the UI systems in Silverlight.

Again, I have to wonder what they are thinking at MS. Then again, they did think that brown Zune was a good idea.

By omnicronx on 3/13/2010 1:29:39 PM , Rating: 2
You say all 360 games are written in c/c++ and that is just incorrect. Anyone who wishes to make a custom game, and those old games on the marketplace are most likely XNA. In fact anyone can connect their 360 to their PC and develop using XNA Game Studio.

I don't see how anyone can take your comments seriously if you didnt even know this.. just the usual MS bashing from those who don't know what they are talking about. Microsoft already has a large XNA following, so i don't see how its a bad idea. You also make it out as though it will be impossible to port over gaming engines which is also not the case, it has already been done.

The framework in general is also very similar to c#, which is also very similar to Objective-C.. neither of which are native languages. Even with the iPhone, only full on OpenGL games are written fully in c++, basically if you are using any iPhone UI elements you essentially MUST use objective C.

Full on 3d games are only a tiny part of the iPhone app store, most of the apps are basic made in objective-c, there is no reason to think it will be any different on other platforms. The cool thing about phones is that you don't need to be a major developer to release software,.

By z0d on 3/14/2010 5:44:26 AM , Rating: 2
When I said that Xbox360 games are written in C/C++ I was referring to games made by professional developers, not the community games which are of course XNA, since that's all MS allows. So, when you say that I dont know what I'm talking about and imply that my purpose is simply to bash MS, you are wrong.

MS can court amateurs all day long if they want, but if they really want to be serious about making this a games platform and getting devs to port existing games, they need to support C++.

Regarding your point about the similarity between these languages, yes they are similar, but similar is not same. In order to port games to C#/XNA/Silverlight anyone with an existing game will have to re-write or alter large parts of their code. All this, in a language they're probably not familiar with, for a new device with no install base, and with no real hope of being able to reuse that code later on another device (iphone, android, etc).

Zune support...
By RabidDog on 3/12/2010 1:51:06 PM , Rating: 2
One final tidbit is that it sound like it will be ridiculously easy to use Microsoft XNA Game Studio to port Zune titles to Windows Phone 7 Series phones and vice versa.

Wow! That must be at least 8 titles that can be ported. Watch out Apple, your ass is grass!

RE: Zune support...
By Pirks on 3/12/2010 3:09:02 PM , Rating: 1
heheheee :))))

Why all the effort?
By Vagisil on 3/12/2010 9:01:40 PM , Rating: 3
Is it just me or does this still feel pointless?

Lets look at the phone for a second... nope i don't see any controls for gaming.

Even nintendo knows a touch screen on its own for gaming limits your options, No D-pad and no buttons Microsoft may as well just appeal to the mobile phone audience and ignore games entirely.

Love that game pic!
By mattclary on 3/12/2010 12:49:13 PM , Rating: 2

By ToxicTaZ on 3/15/2010 12:56:11 AM , Rating: 2
Hey sup all?

The info on this page is wrong! WindowsPhone7 Series phones all use the new Qualcomm's refresh 45nm Snapdragon chipset 1.3GHz QSD8650A with AMD/ATI Imageon Z460 = Xbox360. WindowsPhone7 Series phones don't come with the old 65nm Snapdragon chipset 1GHz QSD8650 with Imageon Z430! The 45nm 1.3GHz QSD8650A is the new chipset with the upgraded Imageon Z460 and 512MB RAM/1GB+ ROM in all WindowsPhone7 Series phones. There not much talk and info on this new chipset...?

New Windows Phone 7 Series phones that I know of are:

- LG Apollo
- HTC Obsession
- Sony Ericsson XPERIA X3
- Samsung Omnia 3
- Toshiba TG03

Wait, what?
By bug77 on 3/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Wait, what?
By Avatar28 on 3/12/2010 10:46:52 AM , Rating: 5
It's really no different than most of the other platforms out there. At least it will ensure consistency. My biggest reservation will be the closed garden approach where everything will have to come through the Marketplace. I think that will greatly restrict the number of apps and number of free apps available on the platform.

At least both of those are pretty flexible and give the added benefit of being cross-platform. It will be a cinch to port titles between the Zune, WPS7, Xbox360 and PC. None of the other alternatives comes close to that.

RE: Wait, what?
By bug77 on 3/12/10, Rating: -1
RE: Wait, what?
By Murst on 3/12/2010 11:35:28 AM , Rating: 5
Then again, M$ didn't build an empire based on compatibility.

Actually, a large reason why Microsoft got to where they are is because of compatibility - backwards compatibility with other Microsoft products.

I can't think of another company that puts so much effort into backwards compatibility. Of course, you can argue that at some point is becomes detrimental to the software, but that is another subject.

RE: Wait, what?
By omnicronx on 3/12/2010 12:18:39 PM , Rating: 5
Then again, M$ didn't build an empire based on compatibility.
You are joking right?

MS is the compatibility king, pretty much all of their products are written with compatibility in mind.

"Well, we didn't have anyone in line that got shot waiting for our system." -- Nintendo of America Vice President Perrin Kaplan

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