In what many are calling a death blow to HD DVD, Warner Bros. announced they will be exclusive to Sony’s Blu-ray format. They were previously the only studio releasing movies on both formats. Also mentioned was New Line’s confirmation that they too would be going Blu.
The next gen DVD battle has been a mess from the beginning, confusing the hell out of everyone who did not closely follow the war. It turned into a video game-like back-and-forth struggle, with lower prices, propaganda, and various PR talking heads touting their format as the best.
I’ll fully admit my admiration for HD DVD over Blu-ray. Its finalized spec has led to far fewer playback problems (my current Blu-ray player will not play two recent releases at all), the online connectivity added additional features not found elsewhere, and lower entry price made it affordable to the masses.
Now, this is still not the end for HD DVD. While the Toshiba camp called off their press conference at CES this weekend due to the announcement, Paramount and Universal still stand behind the format. This is sure to cause only more confusion, and in the end, the best thing for Toshiba to do is toss out the white flag. This is holding back the formats from taking off, and while it’s hard for me to admit, having been a supporter since the beginning, it’s simply the right thing to do for everyone.
Looking at the battle so far, it’s easy to see some of the mistakes made. The lower priced HD DVD players over the holidays were a great idea, but the software never sold in the numbers it should have. Why?
The stupidly priced combo discs which include both the HD DVD and DVD in one package led to people paying more for the HD DVD than the Blu-ray version. People who already owned a DVD version were forced to pay more for something they didn’t need, and no one who owned a DVD player was going to fork over fifteen dollars more for the combo format.
Two things could have turned the tide. First, studios should have lowered the combo disc price (given that the HD format is cheaper to produce) and released ONLY these. Get the discs in peoples' hands, educate them this way, and then when they see the low-priced HD players, they make the switch because they already own the movies. Secondly, Toshiba should have fought harder to convince Microsoft to insert the HD DVD drive standard into new Xbox 360s.