DVD format war heats up on consoles

By Peter Nowak, CBCNews.ca

It looks like the next-generation DVD war is finally getting cranked up a notch, which is good because conflict can only bring resolution -- and this is one fight that consumers are eagerly awaiting an end to. And as many pundits suspected, video game consoles are increasingly becoming the chief battleground in this skirmish.

Sony ratcheted up the pressure last week with a $100 price cut on the PlayStation 3, as well as the promise of a $400 console in November. Given that most standalone Blu-ray players are north of $500, that makes the PS3 a pretty good deal, leading some analysts to predict big sales gains for the so-far struggling console. The extra sales will not only help Sony's video game efforts, but they should push Blu-ray forward as well.

Microsoft, an HD DVD backer, has responded in several ways (real and rumoured). In Japan, the company is cutting 360 prices by about 13 per cent, while in the United Kingdom it is offering five free HD DVD movies when consumers buy the add-on player for the console. Most intriguingly, speculation has emerged that Microsoft is planning a Xbox 360 console with a built-in HD DVD player, to be released next year.

It's good to see some downward pricing pressure come in on both next-gen formats, both on players and discs. All told, the technology is still way too expensive -- it's hard to justify paying more than $30 for a next-gen movie when the same regular DVD can be selling for less than $10. When the prices get low enough, consumers will inevitably choose a winner.