Bad news if you got an HD-DVD player for Christmas, Warner Brothers is now a Blu-Ray exclusive studio. This news doesn’t actually shatter the earth since Warner was expected to go exclusive on June 1 of this year. Nevertheless, the idea that Warner felt that pressing any HD-DVD disks for the next 6 months was a waste of time is a sort of handwriting on the wall.
Paramount and Dreamworks remain HD-DVD exclusives until the end of this year, thanks to a 150 million dollar incentive paid by the HD-DVD consortium (essentially Microsoft, who has declared war on all things Sony and is promoting an internet distribution business model for high definition movies). How long they stay exclusive after that is anybody’s guess but a moot point because any format disagreement should be pretty much decided by then.
Personally I have no dog in this fight since I own both an HD-DVD player and a couple of PS3s so either way I’m covered. That having been said, I think that Blu-Ray is going to be the winner, Pyrrhic victory that it may be. Whoever wins, I don’t see there being another disk format after this one. Eventually the idea of everyone maintaining their own libraries of movies, music and books will be as quaint as cuneiform but a move to an online distribution system is still premature. Anyone with good display technology and access to all the formats can tell you that there is no contest between HD content from Xbox network and a movie on Blu-Ray (which seems to hold a slight edge over HD-DVD in picture and sound quality as well as storage space). I’m only buying HD content on Blu-Ray for now, so guess I’ve made my choice after all.