With Wordament, Xbox Live Sneaks Onto Android

Android users can now rack up Xbox Achievements. Is this a sign of things to come?

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Microsoft’s Wordament is an addictive word puzzle game that you’ve probably never heard of, because until now it’s only been available for Windows 8 and Windows Phone.

On Friday, Microsoft released a version of Wordament for Android. That’s good news for fans of word puzzles, but it’s also an interesting move for Microsoft, being the first game to bring Xbox Live Achievements and Leaderboards to Google’s operating system. If you’ve been racking up Achievement points on an Xbox 360 or Windows device, the points you earn in Wordament for Android will count toward your total Gamerscore.

Unfortunately, the execution is flawed in a major way: Microsoft counts Wordament as a completely separate game on Android. If you’ve been playing on a Windows Phone or Windows 8 device, your Achievements won’t carry over to the Android version. In fact, the Windows version has Achievements that aren’t even available on Android, and four times as many total points to earn. I don’t know if this is a deliberate strategy–making Windows richer in points as an incentive for consumers–or just something that Microsoft has to iron out.

In any case, the arrival of Wordament raises some questions: Is this the start of more Microsoft games coming to Android with hooks into the Xbox ecosystem? Is Halo: Spartan Assault next, or will Microsoft open Xbox Live on Android to other game developers? And what about the iPhone?

If Microsoft is preparing to establish its own gaming platform on Android, it will have plenty of company. Google has its own gaming service now, and Amazon recently expanded its own GameCircle service to all Android devices. While not exactly the same thing, Sony also has PlayStation Mobile, a separate marketplace for games on select Android device, and trophy support is reportedly being worked on. Still, Xbox Live’s name recognition and ties to Microsoft’s game consoles could be a big hook for players. I know I’d gravitate toward games that let me build up my Gamerscore.

For now, just give Wordament a try. The goal is to form as many words as you can from a four-by-four grid of letters, and you’re constantly competing with other players. It’s a good way to get your brain working in the mornings, and it’s free.