It’s possible that more people on the internet know that Toshiba officially killed off their HD-DVD arm today than know that Castro walked off the political stage, so there’s no need to reiterate the obvious. (Read the press release if your priorities are straight and you haven’t seen the details yet.)
The big question now for gamers is what Microsoft will do with the 360. The add-on HD-DVD drive hardly set sales charts on fire, and now will obviously go the way of the Power Glove. Yesterday the company issued a bland, game-centric statement, which goes like this:
We do not believe the recent reports about HD DVD will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace. As we’ve long stated, we believe it is games that sell consoles and Xbox 360 continues to have the largest next-gen games library with the most exclusives and best selling games in the industry. We will wait until we hear from Toshiba before announcing any specific plans around the Xbox 360 HD DVD player. HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room along with playback of the DVD movies they already own.
It’s difficult to call why Microsoft said anything at all. Rumors of Blu-Ray on the 360 have floated over the past week, but they’re hardly new. (The current one: a Blu-Ray 360 in May.) Two years ago we were hearing the same speculation that sites ran with in the wake of the Netflix and Wal-Mart announcements. The topic is hardly rampant or damaging. Blu-Ray’s market exclusivity may help sell PS3s in the future, but Sony’s numbers aren’t going to jump so fast that MS had to say anything before Toshiba even announced their decision.
I contacted Microsoft’s reps today to see if there was any follow-up statement. The response boiled down to ‘nope’. (More directly: “MS has nothing to announce beyond what they said yesterday.“)