XNA Games Coming To Zune, Xbox Live

Friday, February 22, 2008 by Mistlee

XNA Games Coming To Zune, Xbox Live

By Nathan Weinberg

Microsoft dropped a bomb at the Game Developers Conference, announcing that it is extending support for its XNA video game programming language to its Zune media device.

That means that XNA games (which are easy and mostly free to design and can run on Windows and the Xbox) will be also able to run on the portable music/video player, with developers only needing to code it once to run on all three platforms.

Microsoft's Chris Satchell made the announcement at GDC, showing a demo of a new side scroller (or, technically, up scroller) space shooter called Zauri. The game is controlled using the touch-sensitive "squircle" pad on the Zune, an excellent gaming control for a small device. Take a look:

Video: XNA Game Running on a Zune

According to Engadget, while the second generation Zune (and its unique and well-suited for gaming control pad) is used in the demo, developers will be able to ship games for the first generation Zune, so long as they create a control scheme for that device.

Wireless multiplayer games, thanks to the Zune's wifi, will absolutely be an option. You can play with any Zunes in your vicinity, with up to eight players per game. In-game music can be customized, selected from any music already on the Zune, except for DRM licensed music.

Games will be created using the next version of the framework, in XNA Games Studio 3.0, the first beta/preview of which will be out this April. Final release is currently targeted for the Fall. Games cannot be played cross-platform (i.e., Xbox users can't play against Zune users), but game files will run on all three platforms. Games will not be shared wirelessly, though that may change.

Also coming: Xbox Live Community Games. The best XNA games will be made available on Xbox Live, with game sharing, rating, downloading and playing on your console, without the need to connect to a PC or have a Creators Club subscription. The first seven games are available right now as a special preview (and, presumably, to test the system). For now games are free, but Microsoft is considering revenue models so creators can make money, which will be announced before the holiday season.

To download the games, first go Marketplace, then Game Store, then All Games, then XNA Creators Club, then XNA Creators Club Game Launcher (not "XNA Game Launcher"). Download it, then go to the XNA Creators Club tab in Games Library to download games.

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