At their pre-TGS press briefing in Tokyo today, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 will support 1080p content through a software upgrade. The "p" stands for parity.
Microsoft's announcement -- which effectively parries Sony's bold claims regarding the merits of 1080p high definition content or, as Sony calls it, True HD -- is their latest move seeking to blunt the impact of the oncoming Sony PS3 hype-train. With the True HD cat de-clawed, Microsoft's mantra of choice will appear even more appealing. It's another bullet point taken out of the next-gen console war equation.
Joystiq spoke briefly with Shane Kim, General Manager of Microsoft Game Studios, about their announcements in Tokyo today. First off, Kim clarified that, while the software patch would upscale all content to resolutions as high as 1080p, Microsoft themselves had no plans to produce gaming content taking advantage of this ability. He was similarly convinced that very few other developers would see the value in producing 1080p games, with the singular exception of Sony's first-party studios, eager to validate the value of the capability.
Similar to the way the Xbox 360 upscales original Xbox games from 480p to 720p/1080i, you'll be able to enjoy your existing Xbox 360 games at the new resolution. As if you needed more proof that Microsoft's adoption of high definition HD-DVD is little more than a strategic move to limit Blu-ray's potential sphere of influence, Microsoft's 1080p software upgrade will also remove some of the value of their upcoming HD-DVD add-on by upscaling your existing DVD movies to HD resolutions, including 1080p.
So, Microsoft just announced that the Xbox 360 will play your existing DVDs back in high-definition -- in addition to being able to play back legitimate HD-DVD content if you're interested -- and they're gonna do it in 1080p. In the bullet point war, Sony better hope that extra Blu-ray disc space is worth it; they'll have a chance to prove it at TGS this week.
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