Xbox 360 Stock and the HD-DVD Rumor

December 16, 2005

Posting all this 360 news makes me feel like I write for an Xbox only site, but I digress.

The current rumblings are that about 300,000 additional 360s are headed to retail outlets in the next week or so. If I were you I would make good friends with someone at a retail store to get an inside track on when they arrive. Either that or you can start calling all your local stores every hour. This number of units is comparable to the initial launch stock so lots of gamers may swing a last minute gift.

Everyone knows that Sony is using the PS3 as a trojan horse to get Blu-Ray players into living rooms. Merely days after the 360 launch, reports were coming out of a new and improved 360 equipped with an HD-DVD drive. Microsoft is vehemently denying these rumors. I would have loved to see an HD-DVD drive in the 360 but I think there is a huge risk that MS avoided in this case.

Sony is backing Blu-Ray very aggressively. They have a lot riding on the success of that format. If it succeeds they will be set with a unified player and console. If it fails… everyone has to buy an HD-DVD player anyway. By eliminating the choice and making it to market now instead of a few months from now Microsoft is keeping the cost of the 360 down while also leaving the format war up in the air. It doesn’t make sense at this point to support a format this early on in the battle.

Adding an HD drive means they would be in the same boat as Sony if the opposing format wins. The caveat here is that Sony owns a ton of movie studios and has committed to make BR movies using those studios libraries. They can actively sway the balance of things in this format war. Last time I checked MS didn’t own any movie studios so while they have a stake in the war, they don’t have an active role as much as Sony.

That being said, drive upgrades have not been historically very successful in the gaming world and I don’t know if MS could pull it off short of doing drive replacements free of charge.