Three titles announced, plus plans for apps and Xbox Live integration.
Microsoft has confirmed its plans to release downloadable apps and games for its new Zune HD device, but only a few titles have been announced, and they won't be available until November.
The Zune HD went on sale in the US yesterday, alongside new Zune software. The relevant section of the press release runs thus:
"Later this year, Zune plans to release free applications such as Twitter for Zune and Facebook for Zune, in addition to fun 3-D games such as Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition, Vans Sk8: Pool Service and Audiosurf Tilt. Games can be added to Zune HD via Zune Marketplace over the Wi-Fi connection or when connected to the Zune PC software."
The announcement of Audiosurf is intriguing: the original PC game lets people play along with their own library of songs, so the Zune version will surely include a similar feature.
Microsoft's push for Zune gaming is confirmed by news that it's updated its XNA Game Studio 3.1 platform to support the Zune HD, allowing independent developers to create games for the device that make use of its touchscreen and accelerometer.
However, it seems the company won't be quite as open as Apple has been with its App Store. Zune marketing manager Brian Seitz has told the Seattle Times that Microsoft is working with games firms "on a case-by case basis. It's not really come one, come all."
Other newly-revealed features for the Zune HD include the ability to buy or rent high-definition movies from the Zune Marketplace store, and a Smart DJ function that automatically compiles playlists based on a single artist, album or song - much like Apple's new Genius Mix feature on iTunes.
Meanwhile, Microsoft has debuted a new online streaming music service that will only be available to users of its $14.99-a-month Zune Pass subscription service. That means they'll be able to listen to unlimited streaming songs from their desktop, rather than simply downloading them to their Zune.
It's a sign of how Zune as a platform is now about more than just the portable media players. Microsoft says it will roll Zune out to the Xbox 360 console soon too, allowing people to buy films and TV shows once, and have access to them on their console, PC and the Zune HD.
"The Zune business is growing into a comprehensive entertainment service that's no longer tied to any one screen or device," says Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the TV, Video and Music Business at Microsoft.
"Zune lets consumers connect to their music, TV shows and movie content and enjoy it on the three screens they use every day."