October 16, 2011
The Temporary Solution to the ailing DVD…..
I’ll never forget my first DVD player. I received my first DVD player for my 16th birthday, it was huge. The “fat” PS3 looks pale in comparison. I also received The Sixth Sense on DVD, one of M. Night Shitaki’s better movies and better than the Joel Schumacher Bat bungle I have on while writing this. The great picture and sound coming from what looked like a CD; changed my movie view experience into something special. Would this catch on or would the VHS prevail and still rule as the popular media format?
As history would have it the DVD became the dream media format; cheap, greater picture and sound, and backed by top studios and companies. In 2000 and in 2001 it became the standard in gaming. The PS2 and Xbox would usher in a new era in gaming media by incorporating this format and in being DVD players themselves. This move would also define future consoles, being the media hubs that they are today. In 2006 the DVD had two new challengers to compete for the media’s all mighty dollars. The Blu-ray disc and the HD-DVD would do battle for two years trying to become the successor to the DVD and bring HD to the for-front of media entertainment. In 2008 Blu-Ray, with the help of the PS3 using the format as its proprietary format; defeated HD-DVD to become the only disc based HD format.
The Xbox 360 is currently the only HD console still using this format, and its age is starting to show. The average DVD holds around 4.5 GB worth of information; on a duel layer disc 8.5 GB. With games like Rage, Lost Odyssey, Blue Dragon, and Final Fantasy 13 coming on some times 4 discs, compared to their PS3 counter parts only requiring 1 disc, there seems to be a need for a new format. A new Xbox is still, at the very least, two years out. With no new console and a format that is ageing, what is the quick fix? Enter the hard drive.
For quite some time we have been able to install games on the Xbox to the hard drive, but not until recently has it been a viable option. Forza 3 was the first game that I ever installed on my hard drive and for good reason. A portion of the cars and tracks were on a separate disc. After installing the second disc everything was accessible with the first disc and adding more content. Battlefield 3 will have an optional install as well to provide better textures and faster load times. I recently picked up a copy of Rage for the 360 and it spans 3 discs; the first two for the campaign the third for the multiplayer. It too has an optional install to reduce the load times and down to one disc, albeit taking up a whooping 22GB. After the install the game runs beautifully. I have a 250GB hard drive and would not mind partitioning more of my hard drive to these types of installs if they would reduce disc swapping and breaking the “experience”.
In the gaming industry the DVD is becoming somewhat of an antiquity. Games are becoming more complex, being created on exciting new technologies, and with those traits require more space to avoid further decompression and creating an unbalanced experience across platforms. We discussed on this past week’s GamerChat about Digital Distribution and if it could be the future of Microsoft’s next console. Hard Drives are hitting 2TB and are relatively cheap the only thing that could hinder this type of format is the ISP and restricting bandwidth and download speeds. The Hard Drive fix can only last till the end of this generation, Microsoft either partners with Sony and accepts the Blu-Ray format, or we suffer at the hands of ISPs trying to download a 22GB game on wireless connections. I would like my game sooner than later.
I have the feeling a lot of my questions will be answered at E3 2012 where Microsoft is rumored to give details about the 360s replacement. Technology is ever changing; in cameras film has been replaced by high performing memory cards, hard drives are hitting enormous space amounts and leaving moving components behind, the MP3 had left every other music format in the dust. The DVDs best years are behind it, commercials are now even stating “Available now on Blu-Ray” instead of putting DVDs first. Sleep well sweet prince of new millennium technology, you have changed so much in your short time.