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PGR confirmed for Zune HD this year

Microsoft's handheld campaign begins.

Microsoft's newly released Zune HD touch-screen media player will function as a gaming device, Microsoft has confirmed, and 3D versions of games such as Project Gotham Racing will be available for it by the end of the year.

On the day the device launched in the US, Microsoft revealed it plans to release games such as Project Gotham Racing: Ferrari Edition, Vans Sk8: Pool Service and Audiosurf: Tilt by the end of the year. Games will be made available for purchase digitally through the Zune Marketplace, where users have access to a range of media using either a wi-fi connection or a PC running Zune software.

Free applications such as Twitter, Facebook and MSN weather will also be downloadable for Zune, Microsoft confirmed.

"With today's announcement, the Zune business is growing into a comprehensive entertainment service that's no longer tied to any one screen or device," said Enrique Rodriguez, corporate vice president of the TV, video and music business at Microsoft. "Zune lets consumers connect to their music, TV shows and movie content and enjoy it on the three screens they use every day."

The Zune HD went on sale today in the US only, at the price of USD 219.99 for the 16GB version, and USD 289.99 for the 32GB one.

Plans to release the device in Europe are yet to be announced. However, Microsoft will be bringing the brand to Europe when Zune starts to deliver video content to users through the Xbox Live Video Marketplace later this year.

"Eventually we’ll offer the full digital entertainment experience spanning screens, devices, platforms and geographies," Chris Stephenson, general manager of consumer marketing for Microsoft's TV, video and music business, has previously commented.