Ever since HD-DVD’s death notice was reported on by every damn website on the internet the question on every gamers mind has been;
“ZOMG IZ MICROSOFT GOINGZ TO PUT DA BLU-RAYZ ON THE 360?? LOLLLZ!!!!1111 PWND”
After getting their smartest monkeys to decipher the mad ramblings of crazed forum dwellers Microsoft responded to rumours of an impending Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 by saying;
"We have no plans to do anything at all in terms of further or additional movie playback peripherals… Online is the future. And we're very well placed to take advantage of that”
Despite stating that digital downloads are the future there are a number of obstacles preventing online delivery of video content from becoming a viable alternative to physical media, the most prominent of which is the capabilities of the average home broadband connection, the average connection isn’t good enough to download a movie within a reasonable timeframe, most people would rather purchase the physical media and have it available for use at a time suitable for them instead of the self-destructing video file approach that Microsoft is currently using. As well as the extended download times there are issues relating to storage capacity, fidelity of downloaded high-definition files, the lifetime of the files as well as the simple gratification derived from owning the physical product.
It doesn’t matter what way you cut it if Microsoft truly want to position the Xbox 360 as the center of home entertainment they will have to adopt a physical media format and since Bruce Campbell is still pissed off from the last time someone used the Book of the Dead it’s unlikely that they’ll resurrect HD-DVD. Sooner or later Blu-ray will have to be accepted into the Microsoft family, they’ll probably treat it like a bastard child but in the long run Microsoft will be better for it.
Personally, I really don’t care what Microsoft does from here, I have a PS3 and I was luckily enough to hold off on buying a HD-DVD player, what does interest me however is what Nintendo will do with the Wii now that Blu-ray has come out the clear winner. The biggest criticism gamers level against the Wii is the fact that it is severely underpowered in comparison to its competitors, while the PS3 and Xbox 360 haven’t yet fulfilled their full potential the limited capabilities of the Wii became evident very early on in the consoles lifecycle. Although everyone claims gameplay is the most important aspect of a video game there is a small part of every gamer that wants next generation visuals and realistic physics, things that the Wii just can’t provide to the modern standard.
Now that the Blu-ray is the dominant physical media format I’d like to know if Nintendo will adopt the format, forget Microsoft - I want to know if Nintendo is thinking about entering into talks with Sony about integrating Blu-ray into a Wii 2 (Wii Wii?). The Wii has the casual game market locked down and can continue to cater to them using the current system but the consoles future with the hardcore market is on unstable ground, in the Wii’s current state it could end up walking the same path as the Gamecube.
The alternative available to Nintendo is to update the Wii to cater to the hardcore audience, giving the Wii the capability to handle more powerful graphics and processing as well as integrating Blu-ray would place it in a much more stable position, coupling the increase in power with the unique control scheme would allow developers to fully realize the consoles potential, giving a developer the opportunity to use all of the Wii’s unique features without limitations such as graphics or storage capacity could push creativity beyond what is possible with the current Wii, but then again it might just provide another place for multi-platform releases – except with tacked on motion controls, it’s a dangerous game.