XNA Game Studio on the Zune could be sweet

I’m hanging out at Microsoft with all the Zunatics here, and they’ve just made an interesting announcement regarding games on the Zune. If you’ll take a moment to look at your Zune, I think you’ll find there are, fact, no games at all. Well, they’re looking to change that – the guys here are creating a really robust game development suite that will have integration not only between all the different Zunes, but also with your PC and your Xbox 360.

The XNA dev environment shares a huge amount of code between the devices, and they’ve shown how easy they’ve made co-developing for the different platforms. People can develop the games entirely on their 360s for an annual fee and an easy download, and you actually can develop for the Zune for free.

It turns out the Zune’s hardware is actually comparatively beefy (good processor, more RAM than handhelds really need, etc), and the games I just tested out ran smoothly and the touchpad control felt intuitive. Wireless was fast and easy, and joining my little Potato Chase game was seamless.

They were reticent to comment on future integration with the 360 and PC, for example “squirting” a game to your 360 and playing it with the controller, but it definitely seemed like whatever the consumer base wants is possible. I don’t think you’ll be playing anything too crazy on your Zune (and not for a while) but I can tell you that Doom-likes and lots of casual games are going to be just right for it.