updated 04:30 pm EST, Tue March 9, 2010
Zune HD game writers urged to move to WP7
Microsoft's Michael Klutcher today outlined the details of developing games for Windows Phone 7 but signaled the possible end of Zune development. Starting with the just-launched XNA 4.0 development kit, the company will let developers write games for both WP7 as well as the Xbox 360 and Windows, with many of the features intact across all three. Mobile games will tap into Xbox Live and will have the same features, including achievements and the ability to use a gamer's avatar or send notices for turn-by-turn games.
Most games will primarily need code changes that reflect the capability of the hardware, such as a small touchscreen and modest graphics on phones. Games will have the option of a cross-platform save where players can stop on one platform but continue on another.
However, Klutcher warned that the company is deprecating Zune and Zune HD development. While it will still be possible to make Zune games using XNA 3.1, Microsoft doesn't plan to support this in XNA 4.0 and is "encouraging" developers to move their code to WP7 instead. Game ports can take as little as an hour, however.
The move leaves game and potentially app development for the Zune HD all but silent. Microsoft has always maintained tight control over Zune HD apps and has limited the games so far to just a handful of hand-picked titles, most of which come from Microsoft itself.
More details of WP7 game development are expected this week at GDC as well as at Microsoft's own MIX conference later this month.