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View Full Version : Zune to Become Gaming Device? Perhaps Sooner Than We Think


Jason Dunn
02-09-2007, 12:28 AM
<div class='os_post_top_link'><a href='http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/02/xblas_greg_cane.html' target='_blank'>http://blog.wired.com/games/2007/02/xblas_greg_cane.html</a><br /><br /></div><em>&quot;So what exactly will you be doing for PopCap? GC: I will help proliferate their titles on other consoles. It&rsquo;s a broad in scope role. It encompasses everything from vision and strategy to execution and marketing. It will all be part of my group and charter. Business development will be part of that as well. It will be about taking the stable of franchises and games out of PopCap's studio and adapting, customizing it for different platforms -- adding multiplayer, new play modes, HD, customizing the user interface and display for Zune, ipod, Apple TV, Nintendo DS, PSP. And I'll get into interesting things like custom game development for other consoles, and publishing with partners beyond the studio. The next couple years will be spent just mining the PopCap catalog -- adapting it for a stylus or a Wiimote.&quot;</em><br /><br />We've all heard the rumours about the Zune eventually becoming a gaming device of some sort - there's really not much choice given that's what the iPod has become - but what we have above is the first real piece of evidence that this is more than just hopeful speculation. The Zune has all the raw tools to become a great gaming device - a big, bright screen at 320 x 240 resolution, a d-pad (the iPod scroll wheel is second rate for games), and buttons that would work well for gaming (they're perfectly placed). So the question is, when will we see the first Zune game, and how will it work in the ecosystem of the games? Let's explore that topic a bit...<br /><br />When I was at CES, I was shown a nice presentation about Xbox Live on Windows. They've developed an Xbox Live client that allows you to play Xbox Live games on the PC (Uno, Bejeweled, etc.) The experience is completely killer - you can join in games on your PC that your friends are playing on their Xbox, and with a wireless adaptor on the PC you can even use the Xbox headset and controller. I asked about how the licensing was going to work on this - would you have to re-purchase a game you already own? As in, if I buy Assault Heroes on the Xbox and I want to play it on my PC, would I have to pay for the game again? To me, that would make the service a much harder sell - I'm not going to pay for content twice. The Microsoft person I spoke to about this said they were still trying to figure that part out, but he hinted that the odds were good it wouldn't require re-purchasing. You pay for a game once and you can play it on your PC or Xbox, as long as you're logged into your Xbox Live account.<br /><br />Now transfer that line of thinking to the Zune: you pay for Uno on your Xbox, or maybe your PC, and the Zune Marketplace would allow you to transfer the game onto your Zune. Combine the WiFi on the Zune with the ability to play against others online, and you have a portable gaming machine pretty much unmatched on the market today in terms of functionality and an ecosystem. You have to think that purchasing games, and content, right on the Zune wirelessly are also part of where the Zune team is going. Suddenly the Xbox Live points system doesn't seem so crazy does it? The Zune will plug into a larger ecosystem, and that's what will make it unique against other competing devices in the market. This is exciting news!

NPrtmn4evr
02-09-2007, 01:09 AM
Now transfer that line of thinking to the Zune: you pay for Uno on your Xbox, or maybe your PC, and the Zune Marketplace would allow you to transfer the game onto your Zune. Combine the WiFi on the Zune with the ability to play against others online, and you have a portable gaming machine pretty much unmatched on the market today in terms of functionality and an ecosystem. You have to think that purchasing games, and content, right on the Zune wirelessly are also part of where the Zune team is going. Suddenly the Xbox Live points system doesn't seem so crazy does it? The Zune will plug into a larger ecosystem, and that's what will make it unique against other competing devices in the market. This is exciting news!

That all sounds nice, but I think you are getting too far ahead of yourself Jason;)

First, I highly doubt that I would people to transfer a game such as Uno that I downloaded on my Xbox onto my PC AND Zune for no additional charge. Where's the profit in that? It would be nice, but I just don't see that happening. Microsoft will develop a strategy that is effective for them

Second, I don't think the Zune would be playing the same game as is being played on the Xbox and PC. The Zune will obviously have to have dumbed down versions of the game due to limited hardward abilities.

Thirdly, even if the Zune was playing the same game as the PC and Xbox versions, I think it's a pipedream to think that the Zune will be able to connect wirelessly into the Xbox Live community.

Of course, this is all based on the current Zune on the market today. Microsoft could release a Zunev2 that is able to do all that you're talking about, and that would be AWESOME!:cool:

Macguy59
02-09-2007, 02:54 AM
Not to mention how quickly Wi-Fi will drain the battery in that scenario.

mrozema
02-09-2007, 08:24 AM
Not to mention how quickly Wi-Fi will drain the battery in that scenario.
Wi-Fi drains batteries in every scenario. The Zune is no special case here.

How many of the games from Xbox Live require more than a d-pad and a few buttons? Honestly, because I don't know. I don't have a 360 yet.:D I can imagine that those games that are the simplest on user input will go into the Zune and be able to run with the versions available on the Xbox or PC.

Microsoft can make all this happen, even with a 1st gen device, if they want to. They have to in order for the Zune to really succeed.

David Tucker
02-09-2007, 02:56 PM
Almost every game I have in the Zune Arcade could be played on the Zune with its current hardware. You really think UNO of all games is too graphics intensive? Or Contra? How about Galaga & Frogger?

No, this could work.

NPrtmn4evr
02-09-2007, 07:04 PM
Almost every game I have in the Zune Arcade could be played on the Zune with its current hardware. You really think UNO of all games is too graphics intensive? Or Contra? How about Galaga & Frogger?

No, this could work.

Well of course the Zune will be able to run the games, but they WILL have to be dumbed down as the games in their original form are designed to be displayed in HD on large screens. So while the PC and Xbox versions of said game will be 100 % identical, the Zune version will have to be modified to a degree.

Also, the practicality of having the Zune version connect with people on Xbox Live just doesn't seem feasible to me. One of the points of Xbox Live is communication, how is a Zune player going to be able to communicate with the Xbox & PC users? I could however see the ability to play wirelessly with other Zune players.

Jason Dunn
02-09-2007, 07:28 PM
First, I highly doubt that I would people to transfer a game such as Uno that I downloaded on my Xbox onto my PC AND Zune for no additional charge. Where's the profit in that? It would be nice, but I just don't see that happening.

Well, maybe, maybe not. You can already, today, play your games on a friend's Xbox, as long as you're signed into your live account (you can download them there I think right?). Worst case scenario you can bring along your storage device. All this Xbox TV and movie stuff? With the TV shows, you can log into Xbox 360 at a friends house and download a TV show that you bought on your own Xbox - that's one of the main reasons why Microsoft gives you the standard definition TV show for free when you buy the HD version. So, trust me, they're really thinking about this - and I think they grasp that people will not want to pay for the same game/content for every device they have.

Second, I don't think the Zune would be playing the same game as is being played on the Xbox and PC. The Zune will obviously have to have dumbed down versions of the game due to limited hardward abilities.

No, of course not - I wasn't suggesting that the Zune would be able to play a game at 1920 x 1200 resolution. ;) But they can scale down the graphics and voila. Although whether or not the games are charged for may depend on how much work porting it will be.

Of course, this is all based on the current Zune on the market today. Microsoft could release a Zunev2 that is able to do all that you're talking about, and that would be AWESOME!:cool:

What exactly about the Zune today makes what I'm talking about impossible?

NPrtmn4evr
02-09-2007, 08:07 PM
What exactly about the Zune today makes what I'm talking about impossible?


Mainly it's ability to connect to play Xbox live games with 360 & PC users. I know the Zune has WiFi abilities, but at this point they seem severely limited. I really hope that the Zune will be able to wirelessly connect & sync to a PC with a firmware upgrade, but I don't think you'll be playing Uno with people on the 360 with the Zune. Again, one of the points of Xbox Live is communication with others, and you just can't do that with the Zune.

It's a nice idea that I hope comes to be, but it'll be a few years down the line (and not with the current Zune).

Jason Dunn
02-09-2007, 08:26 PM
Mainly it's ability to connect to play Xbox live games with 360 & PC users. I know the Zune has WiFi abilities, but at this point they seem severely limited.

Unless you know something I don't, the WiFi chip in it is exactly the same in terms of functionality as the one in my laptop. Everything else is just software. Software can be updated. The hardware is there.

Again, one of the points of Xbox Live is communication with others, and you just can't do that with the Zune.

True, there's no way to do voice with the Zune, what about about emoticons or quick text? Look at IM programs on phones - there are ways to communicate that don't require voice or even a keyboard. And to me the point of Xbox Live is playing the games - I rarely if ever talk with my opponents.

You're welcome to your opinion of course, but I'm just trying to point out that all the pieces of the puzzle are there. Will Microsoft do what I hope they will? I have no idea - but the reasons they can't would be for business, not technical, reasons.

NPrtmn4evr
02-09-2007, 09:22 PM
You're right Jason that in theory the Zune can connect just like your laptop would. Will it happen? I have my doubts, but of course it's possible.

I just don't see it feasible for the Zune to play the same games on Live with the PC & 360. Now the Zune team could create a Zune Live ecosystem that is almost identical to the Xbox Live system, where you are able to download games specifically designed for the Zune, and then play games like Uno with other Zune users. I think this is a more practical and realistic solution.

slipkornotpsu
02-12-2007, 01:06 AM
Sounds cool.