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First games for Windows Phone 7 play to Xbox Live crowd

More than 50 games are announced for Windows Phone 7 at launch, and Microsoft is looking towards Xbox connectivity as one of its draws when it come to playing games with mobile devices

Microsoft has announced its first games on the Windows Phone 7 platform, with Xbox Live compatibility the edge it hopes will win over fans of its smart phone rivals.

A huge list of more than 50 games was revealed at Gamescom in Germany that will be available at launch or shortly after, including classic franchises and titles such as Halo, Assassins Creed, Guitar Hero 5, Castlevania and Star Wars.

Games already hugely popular on Xbox Live such as Uno and Bejeweled will be available to mobile gamers. There were also familiar titles we've already seen on the iPhone and Android platforms such as Fruit Ninja and Flight Control.

Kevin Unangst, senior director of PC and mobile gaming at Microsoft, explained that the reason there was such a large range of titles was because the company was approaching Windows Phone 7 as it would do a console.

This differs from the approach of other phone platforms we've seen so far, which have focused on apps as a whole, rather than gaming as a separate entity.

Already announced was the fact that Windows Phone 7 would connect to Xbox Live, where users could earn achievements -- a huge selling point for hardcore Xbox fans -- as well as track friends' scores and update their avatar.

But it was also revealed that some Xbox titles would be able to offer 'companion experiences' with Windows Phone 7. Microsoft described one of its games, Crackdown 2: Project Sunburst, as being a mobile companion game offering different gameplay to the console version, but in the same universe.

This doesn't quite match the hopes of some gamers, who would like a mobile gaming experience that involved and had some impact on the console and PC versions of games.

For example, World of Warcraft is set to have mobile options where you can perform actions that impact your in-game character, such as using the auction house and crafting, that aren't too graphically intensive.

The nature of the Xbox platform's connectivity mean it's the best chance so far for this to become a widespread gaming feature. Greg Sullivan of Microsoft hinted at this when he said, "I think folks are starting to think this through and consider the realm of the possible with gaming.

"You start to extend the leading gaming network of Xbox Live out to potentially millions of mobile devices and you have a platform that lets developers create great experiences that span the Xbox and the phone."

Mobile gaming is clearly the next big thing for companies with an established history of console production, looking for gaps in the smart phone market to extend their brands. Sony Ericsson, for example, is reported to be working on a PlayStation phone.