How To Install Zune Games

If you are looking for help on how to install Zune games you've downloaded from the internet, you've come to the right place. This tutorial will show you exactly how it's done. With screenshots to boot!

We can divide Zune games into two categories: official games released by Microsoft and unofficial games created by Zune enthusiasts. You'll follow a different install procedure for each type.

Official Games

Microsoft has released 5 official games for the Zune: Hexic, Space Battle, Texas Hold 'Em Poker, Sudoku and Checkers.

It's safe to install Zune games from Microsoft. In fact, if you have the latest firmware update, the games are automatically included. You'll find them under the "Games" menu on your Zune.

If you don't see any games there, you can easily install them. Here's how...

Step 1

Connect your Zune with your computer using the sync cable. Your Zune Software should start up. If not, go ahead and start it.

Step 2

Click on Settings -> Device -> Device Update.

Installing Microsoft's Zune games using the Zune software.

Step 3

Click on the "Install Games" button. This will kick off the install process. Wait for it to finish. DO NOT disconnect your Zune until it finishes or bad things will happen!

Step 4

There is no step 4! Your games are installed and ready for you to play. Have fun!

Unofficial Games

Oh, so the official Zune games from Microsoft are not good enough for you, aye? Well, just for you, unofficial games are available for your gaming pleasure.

And they are free. Wait, don't get so happy just yet. You basically get what you pay for. Don't expect professional quality games without having to pay for them.

If you are one of those brave souls who has downloaded a Zune game, and are even braver since you are considering installing it, continue reading to find out how...

WARNING: You can easily download a virus which can do harmful things to your computer, so tread carefully. Make sure you have the latest anti-virus software running. You have been warned.

Unofficial Zune games are not really supported. So Microsoft hasn't made it easy for you to install them. You'll basically have to do a little work before you get to play. But don't worry. It's very doable. Just follow the instructions below.

Note: These instructions were written for Windows Vista. If you have a different operating system, the steps and screens may vary.

Step 1: Download required software

Before you begin, you'll have to download and install some additional software. Install the following:

Step 2: Register your Zune

Did you install the software in step 1? Ok then, moving on...

Next you need to register your Zune with the XNA game studio device center. This is so that it knows where to install the Zune games you download.

IMPORTANT: Make sure the Zune Software is not running. Otherwise it will interfere with the XNA game studio device center and the following steps will not work. Also, make sure your Zune is tethered to your computer using your sync cable.

Go to All Programs -> Microsoft XNA Game Studio 3.0 -> XNA Game Studio Device Center and launch it.

Launch XNA game studio from the all programs list.

Click on "Add Device".

Click on add device.

Select "Zune".

Select the Zune option.

Your Zune should appear in the list. Select it.

Select your Zune from the list.

Note: If you don't see it, re-read the "important" section above and make sure you followed the directions. Your Zune software may have started up again if you plugged in your Zune after you shut down the Zune software.

The XNA game studio device center will then test the connection with your Zune. If it's successful, you'll see the following screen.

Screenshot of a device successfully added.

Click "Finish". Congratulations! You are now ready to begin deploying games to your Zune.

Step 3: Unzipping a game [Optional]

Many Zune games are zipped for easy storage and download. This is especially true with games that are in the form of source code. But it may also be the case for a "ccgame".

If you download a file that has a .zip extension, then do the following...

Right click the file in Windows explorer and select "Extract All..." from the context menu.

Right click the .zip file and select Extract All...

Choose a destination folder and click "Extract".

Click Extract to unzip the file.

Step 4: Deploying a "ccgame"

A "ccgame" is a file type that stands for XNA Creators Club Game Package. But don't worry. You can still deploy this game to your Zune even if you don't belong to the Club.

Just double click on the .ccgame file. You'll see a screen like the following.

Double click on the .ccgame file.

Click "Unpack". Your Zune is still tethered to your computer, right?

XNA Game Studio will deploy the game to your Zune. This may take some time as several files will need to be deployed. Patience is a virtue.

If you look at your Zune screen, you'll see status displayed on the screen.

Jump to step 6.

Step 5: Deploying a game with "source"

Some game creators decide to ship their games in the form of C# source code. This is nice if you plan to modify the source or fix bugs. But in most cases, this just means extra work for you.

If you extract a game that contains several code files, then do the following...

In Windows explorer, open the game directory. You'll find a .sln file. Double click this file. This should open up the game solution in Visual C# Express.

Double click on the .sln file in windows explorer.

In Visual C# Express select Build -> Deploy [game name] as seen in the screenshot.

Deploy the game to your Zune using Visual C#.

The game will start to deploy to your Zune. Wait until you see "Deploy Succeeded" in the lower left hand corner of Visual C# before you decide to unplug your Zune from the computer.

Screenshot of a successful deployment.

Step 6: Restart your Zune

After the game finishes deploying you'll see "Waiting for computer" and "exit" on the Zune screen.

Now unplug your Zune from the computer. Your Zune screen will go dark. Do not panic!

Your Zune is just restarting. After it finishes restarting, if everything went well then you should see your new game under the "Games" menu. Have fun with your new game!

And if everything didn't go well?

Well, you were one of the brave souls who ventured out into unchartered territory, right? That's the risk you run!

But seriously, with all the games I tried, I did not damage my Zune with this process. So don't be scared!

Tip: Each time you unplug the Zune from the computer, it will restart. To save time, deploy multiple games before you unplug it.

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