We Asked Microsoft: Is That ‘Live Anywhere’ Initiative Dead?

At the Microsoft’s press briefing at E3 2006, Bill Gates came on stage to introduce Live Anywhere, an ambitious company initiative to integrate the Xbox 360 experience into everyday life via mobile phones.

Nearly two years later, Live Anywhere has yet to materialize.

Is Live Anywhere dead? Here’s what Xbox Live exec. John Schappert (who took the stage for Microsoft’s keynote at GDC this year) told Multiplayer in an e-mailed statement:

We continue to make progress against the vision laid out for LIVE Anywhere and remain committed to building out the network that connects you to your games, your friends and your entertainment in a variety of ways. The work we have done furthering the Xbox LIVE experience, including the launch of Games for Window – LIVE as well as integration with XNA and Zune, are examples of the many ways this original vision can come to life. We look forward to sharing more details on this in the future.”

With iPhone’s SDK on the horizon and the continued proliferation of Facebook applications — including one to tag profiles with Xbox 360 gamertags — we wondered what happened to the once-promising Live Anywhere. The impressive demonstrations from years back have seemingly remained nothing more than that: demos.

For the uninitiated, Live Anywhere was a two-pronged plan to introduce Xbox Live features onto PC and mobile platforms. Games For Windows Live made it through the pipeline, albeit not without its own bumps along the way. The mobile side, however, was the key to completing the circuit; it would allow gamers to keep tabs on their friends’ gamerscores, achievements and game progress from — theoretically — anywhere in the world at any time. It’s a powerful idea.

Microsoft even dangled the idea of starting a game on one platform and carrying the adventure forward on your phone. They never cited any specific examples outside of simple games like “Zuma” or “Bejeweled” being cross-platform, allowing you to share achievements and scores between the games, regardless of where you were playing.

It’s difficult to tell why progress has been so slow, as Microsoft is keeping mum, but the company doesn’t trot out Bill Gates for anything but their premiere unveilings. Companies pitch and silently drop ideas all the time, but Live Anywhere wasn’t just presentations with concept art; at E3 2006, they were demoing it to the press with real, playable code.

Eurogamer archived their one-on-one demonstration, where Microsoft showcased Live Anywhere’s ability to download content from the XBL Marketplace, view recently played games, display achievement progress, give users the ability to add friends on the fly and even compare gamerscores with the click of a button.

Sony may actually be the ones that beat Microsoft to the punch on this. At E3 2007, recently departed executive Phil Harrison showed a PlayStation Network-enabled Sony Ericsson phone and rumors of a PlayStation-branded phone have persisted.

Microsoft indicated to Multiplayer that no Live Anywhere announcements are expected in the immediate future, but said it remains part of their overall vision for Xbox Live. Readers, did Microsoft drop the ball with Live Anywhere, or is your XBL experience just fine without it?

[Photo Credit: Pocket PC Magazine]

Have a hot tip? Is there a topic that Multiplayer should be covering and isn’t? Maybe you just want to swap gamertags and taunt me. Drop me an e-mail.