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Sony Corp.’s PlayStation 3 game console is clearly the worst-selling new-generation system on the market, but the Blu-ray disc format for movies is starting to get more popular. In order to boost sales of video games and movies at the same time, Sony is working on to record a movie and a game onto a single Blu-ray disc (BD) for Sony PlayStation 3.

“We are actively pushing, and the way that we see the future is that the movie and the game are placed on the same disc. There are a lot of developers who say, we have this game based on a movie, wouldn’t it be great to marry these concepts? We will definitely see this stuff this year,” said John Koller, director of hardware marketing for the PlayStation, in an interview with Video Business web-site.

It would definitely be a pleasure for the consumer to acquire a movie and get a video game with it or otherwise provided that the price of such a set is considerably lower compared to the cost of a standalone movie and a standalone game. However, there are a number of obstacles for such “hybrid” Blu-ray discs:

  • Release schedules for movies on packaged media and video games based on films are completely different. For example, Quantum of Solace video game has been available since December ’08, whereas Quantum of Solace movie on Blu-ray is scheduled for release in March ’09.
  • There is no need for any special initiatives to bundle two discs – one with the movie itself and another with the video game – into a single Blu-ray package even now. Obviously, movie studios and game publishers are unlikely to admire this concept as it destroys opportunities to sell two products instead of one.
  • Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has always promoted the idea that movies encoded using MPEG4 AVC (H.264) codec and recorded on a dual-layer 50GB Blu-ray media are the best in terms of quality. But with a video game recorded onto a BD with the movie, SPHE will have to lower bitrate of the film itself so that to fit everything on a 50GB media (it is unlikely that SPHE will create a special transfer aimed at “hybrid” discs with lower bitrate and continue to produce pristine quality movies for customers interested only in high-def movies and not games; hence, all the movies from the SPHE are likely to be encoded at lower bitrate).
  • The discs will be fully compatible only with the PlayStation 3 video game console, whereas target market of Blu-ray movies is much broader.

Despite of difficulties, there are clear business advantages that Blu-ray discs featuring a movie and a game have:

  • Users who acquire such discs just to watch movies will be interested in trying the game too and will consider acquisition of a PlayStation 3 game console.
  • Since neither Microsoft Xbox 360 nor Nintendo Wii can offer perfect-quality high-def movie as well as a game on a single media (Microsoft can still provide some sort of vouchers to view a movie via the Internet, but the quality will be substantially lower than that of a Blu-ray version), the PS3 will have a tangible advantage over the competing solutions.
  • It is clear that in several years time Blu-ray disc players will surpass sales of the PlayStation 3 and advertising the console using BD movies will definitely be a positive thing to do.
  • It is definite that since content creators merge, there will be more and more movie-based video games and advanced ways of selling them will be needed.

Currently there is no information which movie studios are interested in creation of a single game/movie Blu-ray discs, but Sony Pictures Home Entertainment does confirm that it is onboard.

“The PS3 provides a unique ability to combine the best high-definition movies and gaming experience with Blu-ray. Together with Sony Computer Entertainment, we are reviewing potential titles from both a movie and gaming perspective that would create a compelling hybrid for the consumer. It’s a natural fit for this rapidly growing PS3 install base,” said Lexine Wong, Sony’s senior executive vice president of worldwide marketing.

Tags: Sony, Playstation, Blu-ray

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