A new report
from financial website Bloomberg has confirmed plans by Microsoft to introduce video game content to its recently released Zune media player within 18 months.
The news marks the first official confirmation regarding how Microsoft's Zune brand might be used to enter into the portable games sector, though the company had previously hinted
that the potential existed.
At the time, Xbox European boss Chris Lewis had said, “You can already plug your Zune device into your Xbox 360 to stream music, pictures and video content. Looking ahead, the vision for connected entertainment provides a number of consumer scenarios and with our heritage in Xbox and Games For Windows, gaming is certainly something we’re considering for the device.”
According to Bloomberg report, Peter Moore, corporate vice president of worldwide marketing and publishing for Xbox, commented during CES in Las Vegas that Microsoft plans to bring games to the Zune, adding the device's large screen offers a better way to play handheld games, but would not confirm what types of games are currently being considered.
Given that the Zune lacks any sort of 3D accelerated hardware, it remains unlikely that Microsoft will position the device as a competitor within the dedicated handheld gaming space, and instead is looking to simply compete against Apple's recent introduction
of video games for its popular iPod portable music and video player.
Zune launched during November 2006 in North America to mixed technical reviews and retail demand. According to Bloomberg, Microsoft has confirmed that it plans to sell in excess of 1 million of the devices by June 30, a number that falls significantly below the 17 million in anticipated iPod sales forecast for the fourth quarter alone. While the device debuted in second place within the lucrative U.S. portable media player market, recent data from NPD Group found that sales for the Zune’s second month fell significantly, from a 9 percent market share to just 1.9 percent.