Blu-ray Becomes a Death Ray for HD-DVD

The high def disc battle was supposed to go on for years. Sony, Disney, Fox, and Lionsgate backed Blu-ray. Paramount, Dreamworks, and Universal backed HD-DVD. And Warner Bros. backed both (it goes both ways), making it the deciding factor. If it backed Blu-ray, it could be over quickly, and if it backed HD-DVD the sides would be even and the war would rage for years with everyone buying two players or multi-players.

A week ago, Warner Bros. decided to back Blu-ray exclusively. The war is over. Condolences to the mourners.

Paramount actually had an escape clause in the event this happened, and Universal announced it will no longer be HD-DVD exclusive. There will be some cleanup, commitments fulfilled, but in the meantime, feel free to buy a Blu-ray player. Newline is also backing BR, as is the increasingly irrelevant Blockbuster.

It’s been an interesting ride. Including the BR player in the PS3 caused delays and cutbacks, and inflated the price. It was selling pretty poorly because of this and a fairly crappy game selection. But this past holiday season it sold 1.2M units1.

This change in the film industry should fuel PS3 sales. From what I’ve read, it’s not the highest quality BR player out there. But unlike many standalone players for your home theater, it supports all of the special interactive features the discs have. This is mainly through Blu-ray Disc for Java (BD-J), which is a form of Java ME. Already a number of titles have been enhanced with BD-J, although it seems mostly limited to enhanced menus. Over time, this could lead to some pretty cool hacks and features, esp. with players that are Internet enabled.

Overall, I’m not terribly happy Sony won, but it is nice that a format has been chosen. Using Java for interactivity is another bonus.

  1. Still way behind the Wii, which sold 3 times that. []

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