Gizmodo has a paraphrased interview with Warner Home Entertainment president Kevin Tsujihara on why Warners made the switch:
Kevin Tsujihara told us that what was “somewhat troubling” is the “impact consumer confusion was starting to have” on regular DVD. “Consumers were saying ‘Hey, I might was well wait.’” If another studio had switched “it could have possibly impacted” Warner’s decision. Tsujihara said he “can’t anticipate” the other studios moving over to HD DVD “given the numbers that are out there.”
By choosing a side, Warner Bros. has tilted the balance of power significantly towards the Blu-ray camp in terms of studio clout. Only Paramount/Dreamworks and Universal remain exclusive to HD DVD. Granted, these are HUGE studios with a significant chunk of content that everyone wants to watch. In fact, there is enough content between them that I’m about to purchase an HD DVD player myself, despite already owning a Blu-ray player AND in spite of this recent announcement from Warner Bros.
Looking at the big picture, the real reason anyone buys these next-gen movie players is because they want to see movies in high definition. Without getting into technology spec bickering, both formats are essentially the same to the end-user. Unlike the different game consoles, there are no huge compelling feature differences to pick one format over the other. It simply boils down to “Is the movie I want to see released in Blu-ray or HD DVD.”
(As an aside: let me tell you, if you have an HD TV and you have any interest in watching movies, you need to procure one of these devices ASAP. The quality difference between standard DVDs and hi-def discs on a HD TV is so palpable it makes anyone question how they ever watched movies in such excrement in the past.)
Tsujihara is right in that all this “format war” has done is alienate customers and sow confusion and discontent among the masses. I applaud Warner Bros. for doing what they can to push the industry to a standard hi-def movie format. But in all honesty, I wouldn’t be surprised if both formats co-existed for a couple of more years. That is why I’m taking the plunge and buying an Xbox 360 HD-DVD player to complement my PS3′s Blu-ray capability. Stand alone low-end HD DVD players can be had from the low $100s nowadays. Couple this with a $399 Playstation 3 and you have the capability to play every hi-def movie on the market now and in the future. You’re looking at a roughly $550 expenditure and you get a gaming system to boot. This is lower than buying one of the combo players on the market. Yes, $550 is a chunk of change, but for those of us who can afford hi-def televisions in the first place, spending a fraction of that on one of the main reasons you bought that expensive TV in the first place starts to make sense. Not to mention, just one year ago, owning both format players would have cost you from $1500-$2000.
So what if my $100 HD-DVD player goes the way of Betamax in a year or two. In an age of ephemeral home electronics devices, a two year lifespan for a $100 device may even sound good.
Read the press release [timewarner.com]