The next generation of game consoles are shaping up to become a battleground between competing technologies of high capacity high definition DVD standards.
The support of Sony for Blu-Ray technology in its upcoming Playstation 3 has been widely discussed. Bill Gates has now officially announced that the soon to be available Xbox360 will use the competing HD-DVD format, although the initial batches of the console sold at launch will contain standard DVD-ROM drives. Xbox360 is due for release this Christmas, and with the Playstation 3 due some time during 2006 Microsoft and Sony have indeed engaged in battle to determine the next standard in optical storage. With a storage capacity of 15Gb per layer, HD-DVD has been endorsed by the DVD Forum as the upcoming standard. Although a member of the forum, Sony has never submitted its Blu-Ray standard for consideration. Blu-Ray has a storage capacity of 25Gb per layer, and both technologies include multi-layer capability.
Sony has the immense Playstation user base behind it, but Microsoft is positioning its new console as a multi-purpose home entertainment device to an extent not previously seen. The battle is shaping up to be a quite entertaining one indeed.
On the games front, at the Xbox summit held in Japan a large number of game titles from most of the major Japanese developers and publishers were unveiled. There will no doubt be a much broader range of titles made available for this version of Xbox than there was for the last one, and the commitment of companies such as Konami, Capcom and Namco is indicative of a significant thrust into Playstation heartland. Expect to see Sony combat the Xbox360 release with a slew of new titles for Playstation 2 released around Christmas and heavily discounted prices for the slimline version of the console.
Sony has an uphill battle on its hands to maintain market share. Sony president Ken Katuragi has mentioned on numerous occasions that Playstation 3, when it eventually arrives, will be a somewhat more expensive console than previous models, and has even gone so far as to say that “…the PS3 can't be offered at a price that's targeted towards households." We have to wonder just who they think will buy the thing if that ends up being the case?
But it’s the upcoming battle on the optical storage front that interests this writer the most. Hollywood has recently signed off on the settled standard for the Digital Cinema Initiative and it’s going to be interesting indeed to see what technology will emerge as the standard for delivering it to our home cinemas. Who’d have anticipated that game consoles would emerge as such a focal battleground in that conflict?