There are two significant gaming announcments that came out recently at the Game Developers' Conference (GDC) 2008. First, Xbox Live Community Games is the official release XNA Game Studio was intended for. Now, small-time game developers can play and share their games with others. This is pretty sweet for anyone interested in gaming, which is perhaps every developer at one point or another in their career. I know small-time gaming is what initially caught my interest.
The second announcement, made during the same keynote at GDC 2008, was that we'll be seeing games for the Zune in the future. What's nice is that the games will also be supported on first gen Zunes. Microsoft has been pretty good about supporting early adopters with respect to the Zune. I'm not sure how long that will last, but it's much appreciated... especially since I have 2 Zune 30s and don't feel like the second gen Zunes add enough to warrant an upgrade. I'll be looking at the third gen Zune for sure, tho. Microsoft stated that we'll see another release of XNA Game Studio to support the Zune in the spring. There haven't been many details about this admittedly early announcement, but I'm sure we'll hear more in the coming months.
One thing that gets me about this is the distribution model to be used for Zune. The fact that Microsoft has Windows Marketplace, Xbox Live Marketplace, and Zune Marketplace annoys the crap out of me. Microsoft needs to come out with a generic marketplace with "channels" specific to Windows, Xbox, and Zune. Sure, having something specific to your market is nice, but it just seems like overkill. The fact that each has its own purchasing model has to be even more frustrating to people who use more than one of these services. I guess I want something a little more integrated. That's not too much to ask for, is it? I'd like to see Zune games released or managed via Xbox Live Marketplace, but that probably won't happen, since they'll most likely be distributed via Zune Marketplace. Hopefully, this will drive the first integration between the two services.