No love for Blu-ray from forward-looking Microsoft. Image: Blu-ray/Sony.
Ever since Sony's Blu-ray format defeated Toshiba's HD DVD in the race to establish the industry standard where high-definition (HD) discs are concerned, the question of whether Microsoft will ever integrate Blu-ray into its Xbox 360 console has repeatedly surfaced.
Supporting that question, the Xbox 360's freestanding HD DVD player is long since defunct, and the console's enduring use of the DVD format leaves the hardware unable to play high-definition movies—a problem Sony's PlayStation 3 does not encounter.
Also, Microsoft's continued reliance on DVD sometimes even requires the production of multiple software discs in order to accommodate a single game (i.e., BioWare's Mass Effect 2)—a problem Blu-ray's much greater data capacity does not encounter.
However, despite arguments for the inclusion of Blu-ray aboard the Xbox 360, Microsoft has this week rammed home its staunch belief that Sony's high-definition format is not only unnecessary, its days on the physical media market are distinctly numbered.
"Blu-ray is going to be passed by as a format," predicted UK Xbox 360 chief Stephen McGill while speaking to Xbox360Achievements.
"People have moved through from DVDs to digital downloads and digital streaming, so we offer full HD 1080p Blu-ray quality streaming instantly, no download, no delay," he added. "So, who needs Blu-ray?"
Microsoft's comments reinforce its existing standpoint that digital downloads and digital distribution via the market-leading Xbox Live service represent the future of videogame and multimedia entertainment.
Earlier this month, the European Blu-ray Disc Association told videogame magazine CVG that it would be only too willing to welcome Microsoft into its ranks. Somehow, we feel that's unlikely to happen.