Thoughts on the format war - towards one inferior format

For those that don't listen to Gamercast here are my thoughts on where things need to go with the format war.

Paramount, DreamWorks and Universal should begin supporting Blu-ray in a time frame consistent with Warner, so that by the end of the year there is one clear format.

Microsoft should release either a Blu-ray add-on drive or dual BD-ROM/HD DVD add-on for the Xbox 360 by the end of the year. I don't have any room under my TV for a standalone player, nor do I want to pay the going rate for Blu-ray players.

Unfortunately this situation is extremely bad for the consumer, nor did we get any say in the matter, this was decided by the film studios. They wanted Blu-ray due to the increased control they get from it, region locking and additional copy protection.

This will really hit European consumers (where the recent Blu-ray 1.1 launch was a huge flop). Especially as we're no longer in the same region as Japan, which will further add on confusion where people will expect the regions to be the same as DVD, which they're not. Now we're bundled with Africa and Australia, no doubt film-fans will miss out on many releases that won't make it to Europe and they'll miss out on all the Japanese releases that almost made up for it with DVD.

It will also hit consumers thanks to the insane price point of Blu-ray, at the CES we were seeing new Blu-ray players being announced at $2000 - they're not going to make much progress with price points as high as that.

There's also the matter of scaling production, as HD DVD can be manufactured on existing DVD lines with only a minor retooling so production can be rapidly scaled up on the 400-500 DVD lines in the world. Blu-ray on the other hand has only 14 lines, only 2 of which can produce the 50GB discs.

What I predict we'll see thanks to all of this...

1) Too many Blu-ray films will be released on 25GB discs as demand outstrips the limited manufacturing capacity in the short term.

2) To counter the demand prices will remain high, hitting the enthusiast market and leaving the mass market with DVD.

3) We'll suffer from lower quality films as studios use the inferior and cheaper MPEG2 to counter the additional cost of manufacturing the discs and licensing fees.

4) Different Blu-ray specifications will lead to widespread confusion about which players support what, and what discs support what, further damaging uptake of the new format.

5) Blu-ray will be unable to as successfully compete with DVD as HD DVD would of been able to, and Blu-ray will never win the war against DVD with a decisive victory, leaving the market with both DVD and Blu-ray for well over a decade.

Essentially Blu-ray is the HD format for the film studios, where HD DVD was the HD format for the masses.

2 comments

Comment from: Ransom [Visitor]  
Ransom

It's a real shame.

Is it at all likely that currently HD-DVD exclusive titles will see a Blu-ray release later on?

9th January 2008 @ 11:55
Comment from: [Member]
Paul

Probably.

They'd just have to drop the files onto the new disc and redo the menus etc. So it isn't much work.

Universal and Paramount have however dismissed recent rumors and said they're going to continue to support HD DVD.

12th January 2008 @ 15:10


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