Angry Robot

On Microsoft and HD DVD "Conspiracy"

At ars, Jacqui Cheng debunks the Microsoft HD/DVD conspiracy theories. Or does she? She notes that there’s no proof that Microsoft wants to keep the format wars going in order to champion (Microsoft-supplied) downloads. But where’s the proof that they want to win?

If Microsoft wanted the format wars over and a clear winner decided, they would either a) not be in bed with Toshiba behind the HD DVD format, ceding the fight to Sony’s Blu-Ray or b) put everything at their disposal into HD DVD. Have they really done the latter? Microsoft still doesn’t include an HD DVD drive with the Xbox 360 – they sell an add-on drive. While the drive is cheap (now $129 in the US, $200 in Canada), it’s still $579 for the console + drive, while the entry-level PS3, with its built-in Blu-Ray drive, is $400. So if they were really trying to battle Blu-Ray, they’d be competing on price at the very least.

Microsoft makes no money from Blu-Ray, whereas they earn licensing fees from HD DVDs, and they must take a substantial cut from their own digital downloads. They clearly don’t want Blu-Ray to win, but the question of how badly they want HD DVD to win could be answered if you knew how much money they made from downloads vs. HD DVD. Since we don’t know that, we can only speculate… and from their actions, they’re not backing HD DVD that hard.