What I see of Microsoft’s XBox Surface tablet is Microsoft entering a very competitive portable gaming marketplace with a coat-pocket-sized tablet tuned for games.
The portable-games market is competing in different ways with 3”-5” options in the form of the PlayStation Vita and Nintendo 3DS gaming handhelds as well as the iOS and Android app stores becoming full of games that can be downloaded to an iPhone or Android phone. Even Microsoft is competing against this device through the availability of games in its Windows Phone app store that are ready to download to one’s Windows Phone. There are even some handheld devices like the Apple iPod Touch and a few Android-driven MP3 players that can work well as handheld games consoles. But they don’t have wireless broadband or mobile-phone capabilities in them.
But the 7” coat-pocket-size tablet is showing up to be a capable portable gaming form factor. This was initially “owned” by the Android operating system with devices like the Samsung Galaxy Tab 7, the Toshiba AT150 and the Google Nexus 7 having access to the gaming catalogue in the Google Play app store. Some of these devices are driven by the NVIDIA Tegra chipsets which are rated as having very good game prowess. As well, Sony had built a subset of the PlayStation gaming franchise for the Android platform by having certain high-performance Android smartphones, mostly their Xperia phones, “certified” for the name and establishing an app store for that franchise. Lately, Apple brought the iOS mobile platform in to the foray with the arrival of the iPad Mini, thus introducing another mobile platform in to this form factor.
No doubt, Microsoft doesn’t want to miss out on the party where you can quickly bring out of that coat pocket a small tablet computer and begin to play one of many games ranging from Angry Birds through the “games of a misspent youth” (pool, pinball or arcade games) to an intense action-adventure title. This could yield in a highly-competitive gaming environment for this form factor.
As far as the multi-player multi-machine gaming could go for this platform, it will primarily be an “online-driven” environment with little effort on local or venue-driven gaming.