While there's no shortage of handheld game systems on the market--the Nintendo DS and
We say "no brainer" for several reasons:
- Microsoft has a successful gaming platform in the Xbox 360, emphasizing online and downloadable gaming.
- Microsoft, compared with Sony and Nintendo, is best able to take on Apple in terms of a media-management software store and the ability to build an equivalent music/games/movies catalog, and making that product PC compatible.
The first point is obvious. The second is debatable, but we say this because Sony, while having a decent media library on PSN, just isn't historically great at building cross-platform software for syncing the PSP, and Microsoft's global software reach is simply stronger. The third is technically true--Microsoft launched a small collection of completely free-to-play, ad-supported games for its OLED-screened
It's an interesting prospect (and) because the Zune HD processor, an Nvidia Tegra, has both HD processing muscle and 3D graphics capability. We downloaded and played with all the Zune HD games currently available--all 12 of them--with some curiosity to see if the Zune could compete as a game device.
Overall, the Zune HD games are similar in quality to
The most obvious idea would be to expand the Zune HD in size slightly, add a physical controller (perhaps similar to the sliding
The current Zune HD is so small--smaller than a PSP Go or an iPod Touch to a significant degree--that Microsoft could even sell a clip-on gamepad (with a speaker, preferably) and still have a portable device that wasn't bulky. And its price is competitive with the PSP, iPod Touch, and Nintendo DS, at $219 for a 16GB model.
Would you want a Microsoft Zune/Xbox handheld? I'd say the answer would be yes, provided it actually used physical controls. And if they were able to corral the Xbox Live Arcade development community (and even the XNA indie crowd) to make games, it could catch on much faster than anyone might expect.
Right now, the Zune HD isn't a game platform. But, even in its current form, it could be with a simple strategy shift. The question is, is there room for another mobile gaming platform?