Windows Phone 7 gets new Xbox Live features and 14 new games

Microsoft previewed some new Xbox Live games and features for its Windows Phone 7 platform today at the annual Gamescom event in Cologne, Germany.

The announcements are part of the company’s plan to build enthusiasm for its mobile games — which are one of the best ways to show off its mobile platform — and the upcoming Mango release of the Windows Phone 7 software. Mango, which includes a major update for the phone software, is expected to debut in September.

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It’s a small set of new features and titles, but the kind that Microsoft increasingly needs to make as it competes with rivals including Google (soon to be acquiring Motorola Mobility), Research in Motion, Nokia, Apple and Samsung in the mobile operating system market.

The new announcements include Xbox Live Avatar Awardables, which are wearable achievements for your Xbox Live avatar, or virtual character, which is visible on your phone. The first game to feature them will be the upcoming Chickens Can’t Fly.

There will also be game add-ons, such as the ability to purchase extra mushrooms and other goods in games such as Beards & Beaks. You will be able to buy more in-game add-ons and downloadable content such as extra weapons or levels in the coming months. That’s a critical feature to generate revenues for game developers.

Windows Phone will also have parental controls, where parents can set the content that kids can view. You can restrict a child from playing a mature-rated game such as the upcoming Splinter Cell Conviction game. And players will be able to do a Fast Async, which improves game play for multilayer turn-by-turn games.

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Upcoming titles include Beards & Beaks: Cave Area; Bug Village (pictured); Burn the Rope; Collapse!; Chickens Can’t Fly; Gravity Guy; Farm Frenzy 2; Fight Game Rivals; IonballEX; Kinectimals Mobile; Mush; Orbital; TextTwist 2; and Toy Soldiers Boot Camp.

here’s a quick recap:

  • Avatar Awardables: Like achievements—but wearable. Once unlocked, these items will automatically appear in your avatar closet and can be worn on your avatar’s sleeve as a badge of honor. “Chickens Can’t Fly,a forthcoming Xbox LIVE release, will be among the first titles to feature them.
  • Game Add-ons: In the Xbox LIVE title “Beards & Beaks,” players can purchase extra mushrooms and other items from within the game using Microsoft Points. In the months ahead, keep your eyes out for more titles in Marketplace that let you buy in-game add-ons and downloadable content like extra weapons or levels.
  • Parental Controls: The next release of Windows Phone gives parents more control of what content their child can access on Windows Phone, including M-rated (Mature) games. The first M-rated Windows Phone title,Splinter Cell: Conviction,” is scheduled to arrive in the Marketplace later this fall.
  • Fast Async: A new Xbox LIVE service coming this fall that improves gameplay for multiplayer, turn-by-turn (or asynchronous) Windows Phone games.

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