Want Zune HD Games? Prepare to Watch Ads

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Microsoft has released a handful of free games for its new Zune HD, but these games, developed in-house, come with a catch: ads. You'll have to watch either a static or video advertisement while the game starts up.

That could take as long as 30 seconds for Chess, Ars Technica reports, and 17 seconds for Goo Splat. The other available games are Hexic, Sudoku, Space Battle 3, Shell Game . . . Of the Future, and Texas Hold 'Em. Two utility apps, Calculator and Weather, are also available, but they don't show ads during start-up.

As MacDailyNews notes, we shouldn't be at all surprised to see Microsoft infusing -- or maybe "plunking," in this case -- advertisements into its entertainment devices.

"We are going to be an advertising company, and we are going to be a devices company," Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer said during a 2007 financial analyst meeting. ". . . We are hell-bent and determined to allocate the talent, the resources, the money, the innovation, to absolutely become a powerhouse in the ad business."

We've seen this happen elsewhere in Microsoft's Entertainment and Devices division. In July, Microsoft revealed that it would bring Silverlight-powered ads to Xbox Live. That means when you sign into the service, you might see some audio and video in the ads that appear on the dashboard.

That little "enhancement" was more infuriating, because Xbox Live already costs $50 per year, ostensibly in exchange for a commercial-free experience.

As for the Zune HD ads, I'm torn. Thanks to the iPhone, I've generally come to accept that when a full mobile game (not a "Lite" version that teases a paid download) is free, there are going to be ads somewhere. The question becomes, would you rather watch an ad as the game loads, or see them while you play?

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