Game firms back Blu-ray

Better format because... Sony says so?

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CES 2005 Two major games publishers yesterday lent their support to the Blu-ray Disc format, along with a number of lesser players, as the other companies behind the medium began in earnest their efforts to talk-up the technology ahead of its debut later this year.

Electronic Arts and Vivendi Universal both announced their membership of the Blu-ray Disc Association (BDA), touting the format's capacity and the level of interactivity it provides as the reasons for their support, but we also think Sony's decision to base PlayStation 3 on Blu-ray may also have had something to do with it too.

The addition of EA and VU, along with Sun, which also announced its membership of the BDA yesterday, brings the organisation's membership to "nearly 100", senior BDA spokespeople said.

That's rather more than the number of companies actively supporting BD's rival format, HD DVD, but they are able to claim the tacit backing of the 230-odd firms in the DVD Forum, which has anointed HD DVD the future of the DVD format.

That use of the DVD brand is what HD DVD's backers believe gives it the edge over BD, despite the latter's technical superiority, in particular its greater storage capacity: 25/50GB single/dual-layer, compared to 15/30GB for HD DVD.

The BDA yesterday condemned the rival format as little more than a "supersized DVD", touting instead its chosen format's capacity, interactivity features and... er... because it is. That kind of schoolyard jibing - 'You smell', 'Why?', 'Because you do' categorises both camps' attempts to put down the other. While both state they don't want a format war, that's inevitably what they have forced on consumers.

Canny content providers will, of course, favour one or the other, but allow themselves room to support both until the market indicates a clear winner.

Meanwhile, the BDA continues to put the finishing touches on its BD-ROM format for pre-recorded content. BDA spokespeople confirmed that no decision has yet been taken on region coding, or which content protection mechanism the format will incorporate. A choice of coopy protection technology is expected to be made by the end of Q1, the BDA said. ®

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