The high-def DVD format war - which pits Sony against Microsoft / PlayStation against Xbox - has taken another turn. All eyes are looking (with great, high-def, clarity) at the remaining film studios in the HD-DVD camp; effectively Universal Studios and Paramount. Will they stay? Or will they defect to Blu-ray, joining Warner Brothers?
According to normally reliable sources - including The Financial Times
- Paramount may well be the next the 'go Blu' . The FT says, "Paramount, which is owned by Viacom, is understood to have a clause in its contract with the HD DVD camp that would allow it to switch sides in the event of Warner Bros backing Blu-ray, according to people familiar with the situation."
Well, as we said yesterday, Warners switched
Today, according to Bloomberg, Brenda Ciccone, a spokeswoman for Paramount declared, "Paramount's current plan is to continue to support the HD DVD format".
A weak enough statement to say the least using, as it does, the phrase "current plan". So weak in fact that Keisuke Ohmori, a spokesman for Toshiba had to come into the public eye casting doubt on the reports of the Paramount get-out clause. Fascinating, then, that Paramount itself didn't do the same.
So, before you start screaming, "What does this have to do with video games!?", the implications should be quite clear. In the event that Blu-ray becomes dominant, the 40Gb PlayStation 3 becomes an attractive, low-cost (£299) player with online capability and plenty of brand recognition.
Why would online matter to people buying a movie-player? Blu-ray Disc Live (BD Live) is why. This is the next 'interactive' step in Blu-ray's evolution. Sony has already demonstrated a BD Live-enabled PS3 transferring movies to PSP - with David Bishop, president of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, promising greater interactivity 'coming in the new year'. We figured we're in the new year, but there you go.
Whatever the case, retail PS3s will require a firmware upgrade.
It's not Sony claiming the first real BD-Live player though - Panasonic is already showing off its DMP-BD50 player as the first officially accepted BD-Live capable player. According to Blu-ray News, "the new profile 2.0 BD Live DMP-BD50 from Panasonic. The player is expected to ship this spring and a price is not being announced at CES. Panasonic assures us that the player will be positioned at a price point slightly above the DMP-BD30."
The DMP-BD30 retails in the US at $499.99 (£255) - so we'd expect the BD50 at around the $550 mark. With WalMart selling PS3s at $499.95 - the PlayStation 3 already looks like an attractive proposition.
Obviously, from a gamer's point of view, the relevance of all this format warfare is to make the PS3 an attractive proposition for games developers and publishers. The fact is that you can find awful games on the latest high-def media or great games spooling from the ancient C-60 cassette tape. Aside from pushing the platform, the physical medium is secondary to the games.
Now that it appears that the format battle is over, the war now has to revert to who can create the most compelling content.
Finally, who on earth will be using physical media for gaming in five years time anyway? Answers to the Forum please.Sources: FT