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Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player Just for Movies 94

The Gamerscore blog, an official Microsoft news organ, lays to rest the rumours that the HD-DVD drive might be required to play future 360 games. According to them the new HD drive is solely intended to play movies, and will not be used to accesss game content. From the article: "Since announcing the Xbox 360 HD DVD Player accessory at E3 2006, we've been clear that it is designed exclusively for playing HD DVD movies. It will not play games on HD DVD. At this point, we haven't seen anything to suggest that next-gen DVD formats offer a better game experience than current DVD. What we do know is that these formats will bring added cost to game developers, disc manufacturing, and could even result in added costs and longer load times for the consumer, which would negatively impact the game experience." This is, of course, not to say another peripheral or future version of the console might require such a thing.
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Xbox 360 HD-DVD Player Just for Movies

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  • Ugh! (Score:5, Funny)

    by N3Roaster ( 888781 ) <nealw@NoSpaM.acm.org> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:42PM (#15929214) Homepage Journal
    So the HD-DVD drive for the XBox 360 (a game console) won't play games and Sony's Blu-Ray drive for PCs won't play Blu-Ray movies. What's the point again?
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Kazzahdrane ( 882423 )
      Microsoft said right from the start that they wanted their customers to have the choice of whether to spend money on a next-gen DVD drive, unlike Sony who are giving PS3-buyers a Blue-Ray drive whether they like it or not. For this reason MS said months ago that they would not release any games this generation on HD-DVD discs, because they wanted all their 360 owners to be able to play all the games available. This isn't news at all, MS have always said the optional HD-DVD drive would be for movies and not
      • Of course, you could also look at the opposite perspective, and say that Sony wants to give developers the choice of whether to release games on blu-ray or DVD, unlike MS who are giving 360 deevlopers no choice whether they like it or not.

        If you've a developer, and came up with some AMAZING new gotta-have-it game that happened to take up 30GB of space due to it being simply massive in scope, which would you rather do, develop it for a console that supports it straight away, release it on 4 DVDs and piss off
        • I'm not saying I agree with MS's choice, merely that those were the reasons they gave. I'd imagine that towards the end of this generation Microsoft will face some problems with games only appearing on the PS3 because they would need to be on many DVDs for the 360, but for a while at least they have the price advantage in their favour. They probably hope that by the time disc storage becomes a real issue they will have a large installed userbase that will continue to buy games for their system.
    • Not only that, but as I understand it, the Xbox 360 HD-DVD drive won't even include an HDMI port. Unless that has recently changed, someone please correct me if I'm wrong.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:44PM (#15929226)
    While they are still maintaining that no game content will be accessed on DVD, I have to think they have some plans for promoting the device that would involve gaming. One way to do that would be to have the actual game on a DVD but ship an extra HD-DVD with game extras (like making of videos and so forth) that would be in some kind of premium pack...

    Otherwise I can't see how Microsoft can really promote the drive with just the limited selection of movies around at the moment.
    • They way Microsoft sees it, you can get a next-gen game console and a next-gen movie player for a price in the same ballpark as the player alone. (This is where the MBAs would start spouting off about "value-added synergy".) If you already have a 360, you can add an HD-DVD player for ~$200 (based on the latest rumours). If not, you can buy a 360 and the HD-DVD drive at the same time, and spend ~$500-$600. That's right around the price range of dedicated HD-DVD players right now, although pricegrabber.com is

      • by Knuckles ( 8964 )
        But if I would spend 500-600 for a console plus HD player, why wouldn't I take the PS3 which is a better console and has it all in one box instead of a clunky extension*? Sounds like a risky strategy to me.

        * Or two. Xbox360 + huge power supply + huge HDDVD extension sure is not easy to fit into the living room
        • The short, snarky answer: Because PS3 is Blu-Ray.

          The more detailed answer: When you bring PS3 into the equation, you're adding the Blu-Ray vs. HD-DVD variable, so let's not solve for it yet.

          Making the %HDMOVIE% drive a separate accessory gives the customer the choice of when to buy: at the same time as the console, later, or not at all. Microsoft is reinforcing the "not at all" choice by committing to DVD, not %HDMOVIE%, for game content. Yeah, there are trade-offs because you're duplicating a drive, po

    • by Guppy06 ( 410832 )
      "Otherwise I can't see how Microsoft can really promote the drive with just the limited selection of movies around at the moment."

      The same way Sony can promote an entire freakin' console even with the limited selection of movies around at the moment.
      • The same way Sony can promote an entire freakin' console even with the limited selection of movies around at the moment.

        The differnce is one of purpsose - the HD-DVD drive will only be able to play the very limited selection of titles out now. You'd have to be a very big Serenity fan indeed to play $200 just to play Firefly in HD.

        The PS3 on the other hand will be offering a box that can play both games and HD video - so while at first the selection of both will be somewhat limited, there is enough usefulne
  • by Donjo ( 797935 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:52PM (#15929307) Homepage Journal
    I remember in the playstation days there were quite a few popular titles that required switching disks (Final fantasy games, grand turismo, metal gear solid etc.) and I don't own a single game that uses multiple dual layer DVDs for actual gameplay. Maybe I just got lucky and didn't buy one but to me that is a sign that the format is not quite dead yet and we don't need to worry about HD-DVD game content.
    • There is only one that I know of, Onimusha Dawn of Dreams. Even if there were a few more, I'd still be inclined to agree with you about the DVD format.
    • by leblin ( 765931 )
      Xenosaga 2 has 2 DVDs. I dont think any of the cut scenes are rendered in real time. Which is sad considering their quality isn't very high.
  • I love options (Score:4, Insightful)

    by The_Pariah ( 991496 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @02:53PM (#15929316)
    I said it before, and I'll say it again: I LOVE options.

    MS brings up the point I keep pointing out: Next-gen consoles DON'T NEED next-gen media formats. DVD9 is fine.

    Sony is still forcing the Blu-Ray format, although the only reason for it is for Sony to push it's agenda that Blu-Ray > HD-DVD. There's no need for Blu-Ray on the PS3. But it's still there. And you HAVE TO pay that premium price ($200 higher than the XBOX 360) even if you never want to watch a soon to be obsolete video format.

    Thank you MS for not forcing HD-DVD on us.

    • by adam31 ( 817930 )
      If only DVD were big enough, I would agree with you. 6 GB is a pretty big limitation, and if you actually use all of it you're in a world of no fun with layer changes and attrocious inner-circle read speeds.

      But the reality is that we're on the verge of really huge space-consuming technology: off-line procedural textures, baked detail maps on top of multiple layers of material maps, procedural geometry. These are not run-time jobs. Erosion for instance, can consume hours of CPU time, and artists always

      • Where is the 6GB number coming from? Dual layer discs hold approx. 9GB.

        And I still don't see a problem with having a two-disc game. If it keeps manufacturing and development costs down, it's not a big deal to me.

        Off topic of what I'm mentioning, but it would be nice, if there were two-disc games, to allow the HD-DVD drive and the built in to read both discs at the same time. Dual drives loading maps would definitely be nice and a a lot faster. Or even to avoid the "Please insert disc 2" screen prompts.

        • He may have been refering to the original X-Box's strange format disks. Even in dual layer the X-Box games would never exceed around 6Gig. I am not sure what the 360's format is like but id guess theyd want as much space as possible so this has probably changed.

          As for dual drive loading it almost certainly wouldnt work. Try transfering from two different drives to elsewhere at the same time on your computer. Even when they are on different chains and such the peak speed you will reach will be the same as if
      • Now, I'm not a game developer, but it's always seemed to me like lots of aspects of gaming that we take as gospel are really consequences of the technology that was available when "multimedia" games were first developed. We assume, for instance, that storage will be cheaper than processing power. This has always been true: when you had a 66MHz processor with a 1.2 GB hard drive, with a CD-Rom drive, it made sense to pre-render as much stuff as you possibly could and stick it on the disc. Computers got faste
        • by Tyger ( 126248 )
          That is called procedural generation, and it is hardly new. It works really well for some games, not so well for others.

          Games where the environment are a vital part of the gameplay, for example, it would not work so well for. For example, consider if Prince of Persia: Sands of Time were procedurally generated.

          On the other hand, open ended games like GTA where the environment is not so vitally a part of the gameplay would have an easier time working with a procedurally generated world.
        • 'Maybe textures are a bad example'

          Not so much, take a look at kkrieger, the textures are coming along wonderfully and whats more they have massive levels of flexability in them. Instead of relying on a fixed image procedural textures can allow for every single use of them to be different. Note that kkrieger is just 96k in total and the 360 could effortlessly run something much more complicated than it.

          As for world generation Oblivion is already doing a lot of that. Everyones version of Oblivion will look qu
      • by JFMulder ( 59706 )
        Huh? Procedural assets are exactly the kind of things the 360 designers had in mind. [arstechnica.com] No worry there.
    • by coop247 ( 974899 )
      There's no need for Blu-Ray on the PS3

      Today, but what about 5 years from now. Like many people you aren't considering the fact that the life span for a console is almost 10 years. Do you really think everyone will still be buying DVD's in 7 years? Now I'm not happy about the format war, but thats another issue.
      • by MojoBox ( 985651 )
        Uh, excuse me? The lifespan of a console is 10 years? Yes, because the Xbox came out in late 1995, and the N64 come out in fall of 1991. Oh, sure, some games continue to come out after the consoles been supplanted by it's succesor, but that doesn't mean the parties not over for the older system. Try 4-6 years.
        • by coop247 ( 974899 )
          I bought a PS2 in 2000, and they will still be selling new ones for the next 3 years. In my crazy math that looks like close to 10 years.
          Just because new consoles come out doesn't mean the previous version just disappears. There are many titles still to be realeased on the PS2.
      • what about 5 years from now.

        If larger disc capacities are needed 5 years from now, then console manufacturers can plan to build the technology into the consoles that they will release 5 years from now. I'm not willing to pay now for technology that won't be needed until 2011, and it'll be 1/4 of the price by then anyway.

        Like many people you aren't considering the fact that the life span for a console is almost 10 years.

        Rubbish. The life span for a console is only until a better console is released.

        Do you
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Disclaimer - I work for Sony as a games programmer.

      But I haven't always worked there. I've worked on PS2, Xbox, Gamcube, PSP and PS3 games. Every single platform I've worked on has pushed the capacities of the media we've had to work with for various reasons. Take audio for example. A game with a lot of speech needs a lot of audio, at least until we can get synthesized voices sounding good. Not so bad if you only need to support one language, but us European devs tend to ship games that can support at least
    • by donaldm ( 919619 )
      To bring this into context look at the PlayStation 1 (CD) and 2 (CD or DVD). When the PS2 came out the DVD was fairly new, in-fact a DVD player was quite expensive and a PC DVD recorder was over US$1000.

      Sony did not force games manufacturers to actually use DVD's for their games since you could still play original PS1 games and some PS2 games did come out in CD format. Of course later on most manufactures produced their games on DVD, not that they actually needed the capacity of DVD but it was not really wo
    • by qurk ( 87195 )
      Heh. I have a very strong feeling that in the end this will be similar to PS vs N64. PS3 has what 10 times the game storage capacity of XBox 360...not an issue now....maybe an issue in a couple years? N64 may not have been such an utter flop (at least in my eyes) if it had more than a handfull of RPG's, and while obviously XBox 360 has RPG's... I dunno in the end I'm just a Microsoft hater and while I love Nintendo, N64 was a huge flop...
    • The problem with what MS points out is that "from software" the creators of Emchant arms has a blurb on gamespot about how they ar running out of space on thier DVD9 disc. So you would rather have the option of not having a next gen movie player... thats great. I would rather have the game devs have the option to have a bigger type of media so they can bring thier gaming goodness to me..... I mean... its really about the game right?
      • From Software actually complained before release that it was going to take multiple DVDs. These problems apparently all disappeared, since not only is the game only one DVD even the American version with two complete vocal tracks (and this is a long JRPG here) is still only a single disc.
        • They might have made big changes. This type of thing is not new. I have been hearing devs complain about space since the PSX and it's CD based console. At first devs didn't really know how to use the space and in less than 3 years they were complaining about it is not enough. I am one of those people who believe that certain devs would actually make great use of the extra space.
          • I'm sure it's just that they finally figured out how to compress things properly. To my understanding none of the game gives off a feeling of being cut up or missing stuff. MS admitted publically before launch that they were behind on offering the kind of compression tech to third parties they had planned. Team Ninja made similar complaints prior to DOA4's release and the game ended up fitting less than a full disc while still loaded with a good amount of HD video (30 or so minutes at a minimum). From's gam
            • "I'm sure it's just that they finally figured out how to compress things properly. To my understanding none of the game gives off a feeling of being cut up or missing stuff." That's because they did a good job. One of my first realizations that games sometime were shipped unfinished was Soul Reaver: legacy of Kain. I remeber reading about all the swords and creatures that was supposed to be in the game. First they ran out of space then they ran out of time. I would have never known that they had those issu
    • The PS3 is only $100 more than the XBox (the $400 Xbox and the $500 PS3 have basically the same feature set, besides the disc drive)

      The $300 xBox is an icomplete system, because it doesn't allow you to save games. Who chooses the option of never saving?
  • Umm the Wii will be better than ps3 and xbox. screw this HD-dvd bluray crap. the ability to hold more information on a disc for the game does nothing for the game unless the creators add extra content to fill the space. Therfore why would u want ungodly load times on a huge cd? I would rather have a few dvd's with bangin load times. O yeah keep spending 79 dollars for a damn xbox game. or 700 dollars on a ps3. No friggin way
    • I'd pay for a HD-DVD system if it meant games were longer, had more depth, and gave me much larger worlds to explore. For that matter, give the machines 2gb of RAM (RAM is cheap now) to cache up surrounding areas while you move. That way when you load a new area you have all or much of it in memory already.

      Disc size is irrelevant to me unless I get more content. I want a game to last longer, and have more fun things to do. That's why 90% of my 360 playing time has been TES4: Oblivion (with time off to play
  • Not entirely true (Score:5, Informative)

    by aiken_d ( 127097 ) <brooks@tangen3.14try.com minus pi> on Thursday August 17, 2006 @03:16PM (#15929529) Homepage
    I think the point is that there are no plans to ship games on HDDVD, which makes perfect sense because only a small percentage of 360 users will have the drive.

    Since the HDDVD drive itself is basically a transport and laser, and just sends the raw bytes to the 360 for processing, it seems like it would just take a software update of the 360 itself to enable HDDVD games, should the need arise in a year or three. There's no actual movie-specific logic or hardware in the HDDVD drive; no vc-1 decoder, no surround sound processing, nothing. The drive is just like a hard drive: the 360 tells it what sector to read, the drive reads it and provides the raw data with no interpretation.

    So it's not that the drive has some physical limitation that means that it can't be used for games, it's just that there are no plans to update the 360 to run games from the drive.

    -b
  • by Skraut ( 545247 ) on Thursday August 17, 2006 @03:16PM (#15929531) Journal
    Otherwise you end up with the Sega CD situation. You've fractured your customer base to those that can play games on a HD-DVD, and those that can not. If by some miracle 35% of all 360 owners buy the HD-DVD add on, just how many games do you think would be produced for it. In this day and age where game production decisions are made by accountants, ("another Madden Game, Sure!", "It's not done yet? Put it on the shelves, we need the cash.") just how many bean counters are going to approve a game that 65% of the potential customers can't buy.
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      But what's to stop them from releasing the games on both multiple DVD's and HD? Same thing happened with PC games on CDs vs. DVD for quite some time.
    • I remember back when I bought an X-Box. The one and only reason I picked it over a PS2 or a GameCube is that it had Halo. I really miss all the FFs and the Marios, but I wanted Halo.

      Long story short, if you release a good game on an HD-DVD, and require the player, that will draw in a userbase, and all of a sudden that 35% becomes a 60%. Sure, the other 40% will be mad, but they will still buy regular games (not to mention that they've already bought the console).
    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      It's already been fractured by the lack of a hard drive in one of the models.
  • "Otherwise I can't see how Microsoft can really promote the drive with just the limited selection of movies around at the moment."

    Microsoft released this primarily to stop people from buying the PS3 because it was the only next-gen game machine capable of playing high definition movies.

    Customers now have the choice of a 360, 360+HDDVD, or PS3+BR.
  • I don't think microsoft is doing everything they can to make games load faster. Sure, DVDs mean less data is loaded than HD-DVD, but then wouldn't it be better to put the games on CDs instead? And who needs more than 600 MB?
  • I suppose if they find games requiring a larger capacity in the future, one way to deal with that would be to bundle either a HD-DVD upgrade coupon with the game, or game coupon with the drive.
  • This is, of course, not to say another peripheral or future version of the console might require such a thing

    My opinion, is that this perhipheral (should it survive the Blu-Ray battle) will be compatible with future consoles. It only makes sense. It gives added value to the drive (and people will still buy next-gen HD-DVD players, if only for tweak upgrades, so MS will likely still get good profits off the perhipheral despite age). But the point is, that this makes the drive that much more versatile i
    • By the time the next generation of consoles come out, a HD-DVD/BR-class drive should have become extremely cheap to manufacture (unless both formats completely fail to gain mass-market penetration), so there would be no good reason for Microsoft to make an drive-less "Xbox 720" that needs a clunky external drive (which probably won't match the styling of the new console) to do anything useful.

      If the 360 survives the run of this generation, I could see Microsoft releasing a new rev of the 360 with an interna

      • You make excellent points, but my thinking of the drive for future systems is based upon this idea:
        That future games will be much larger (if they continue on the more poly-count, nicer graphics model that MS and Sony are following currently), and therefore, if we actually get (or really, even need HD games, not just resolution-upped games, like Sony and MS do), then those games will need a high-capacity delivery device. While you have a valid point that direct-download may be more viable, I can't imagine
  • It's clunky and plugs into the USB 2.0 port and needs it's own PSU. If that is how the HD DVD drive will work for XBox 360, I don't see what all the fuss is about. Games are never going to play off it and indeed no games maker would ever bother when the firmly ingrained default is the DVD format. It would have been far, far better to support HD DVD from the beginning. The XBox 360 is going to find itself hitting problems a few years down the road when games start demanding more capacity, or when the makers

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