The SS HD DVD is Going Down

Whether the Xbox 360 has a mere 3% failure rate or not, is irrelevant, according to Peter Moore. My personal estimate is about ten times that, but hey, what do I know? And besides, Bill Gates is promising more reliability, so… Stop snickering.

Now, what is relevant, whether Microsoft wants to stand by it or not, is them partaking in prolonging the HD format war. One thing is technically crippling the 360 by allowing people to buy it without a built-in HDD or even an optical HD drive. If you’ve played the stream-fest that is Mass Effect, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about.

The horror. The horror.

But now that Warner Brothers, and by proxy, New Line Cinema, a subsidiary of Time Warner, have dedicated themselves to Blu-Ray, swinging the market to 70% in favor of Sony’s horribly named format, could Microsoft possibly be expected to still cling to the sinking ship, the SS HD DVD? The answer is: of course.

While the article states that Microsoft might possibly look into Blu-ray, we just want to emphasize that there are no current plans to consider Blu-ray as an option. Microsoft continues to be dedicated to the HD DVD format

And this, just as everyone breathed a sigh of relief of not having to once again choose sides, because after all, Paramount, the owner of among many other things, Indiana Jones, had chosen Blu-Ray as well. The war was, as John and Yoko sang it, over. If they wanted it. But they didn’t.

Now Michael Bay might be many things, and this might very well be nothing more than a conspiracy theory, but doesn’t it feel just a bit too plausible?:

Microsoft wants both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads. That is the dirty secret no one is talking about. That is why Microsoft is handing out $100 million dollar checks to studios just embrace the HD DVD and not the leading, and superior Blu Ray. They want confusion in the market until they perfect the digital downloads. Time will tell and you will see the truth.

Bill Gates sort of supported this theory during CES:

Despite omitting HD DVD in his speech, Gates did respond to a question about the format war in an interview with USA Today. However, he did not specifically address the newspaper’s question as to whether the Warner endorsement would “kill” HD DVD.

Instead, he told the newspaper that Paramount’s decision to endorse HD DVD last August helped the format do well during the holidays.

And then he added that movie downloads will eventually “be the dominant way that people get their movies.”

Now I’m all for digital distribution. I wanted it 10 years ago. But living not only in Europe, but on a small spec of German buffer territory called Denmark, I also know the odds of proper digital distribution hitting us within the next 5 years. Namely none.

For all intents and purposes, the two formats are similar. Playing next to each other, you couldn’t tell them apart if your life depended on it. So why can’t we all just be friends, choose one of the two formats and get on with our lives?

Oh, that’s right, ‘we’ already did:

No. of discs sold in 2007:

Blu-ray: 5.7 million (64% or $172.8 million)
HD DVD: 3.2 million (36% or $97.2 million)

Discs sold since inception:

Blu-ray: 6.1 million (62%)
HD DVD: 3.7 million (38%)

And it should be noted in the same breath that there are probably more Blu-Ray players in the world because of the PS3, which contrary to the 360 did ship with both a HDD and an optical HD format (oh, and HDMI). Not only that, but the Blu-Ray is a superior format to boot! Not to mention that more titles are currently available on Blu-Ray than HD DVD, 415 vs. 344.

About the only thing the HD DVD format has on Blu-Ray is a total lack of region encoding. Yes, you read that right. No region encoding. Coming from a man who recently lost his only region-free DVD player and thusly has no way of playing his Apocalypse Now: Redux (The Complete Dossier) or Hearts of Darkness, neither of which are available on region 2, you best believe that is a selling point worthy of being shouted from the mountain. Luckily, the majority of Blu-Ray movies lack region encoding as well.

But despite this advantage and the apocalyptically ugly blue transparent cases apparently mandated for Blu-Ray movies, that is nonetheless where I’ve decided to put my money.

So please, Paramount, and sure, yeah, Microsoft, for the sake of consumers everywhere. War is over. If you want it.

Please.

I want my Indiana Jones in HD.