Bare Knuckles | Blu-ray lands solid shot

Blockbuster offers Sony product in all stores; a loss for HD DVD.

Posted: June 22, 2007

We might just be looking at the first decisive blow in the fisticuffs between HD DVD and Blu-ray, the competing high-definition storage discs.

The biggest video-rental chain, Blockbuster, will offer Sony's proprietary Blu-ray movies in all of its 1,450 stores. The chain currently offers HD DVD discs in around 250 stores, but at this time there are no plans to expand HD DVD offerings to other stores.

Some retailers are noticing an immediate impact with noticeable slips in HD DVD player sales, according to Web reports.

HD DVD owners, of which I am one, can protest all they want, but someone has to lose this fight to preserve some consumer sanity.

For all you PlayStation 3 (only) owners, this may help your cause because the console is still a decent deal if you want a gaming system and a Blu-ray player.

Rockstar gets trashed

What a week for the renowned developer of the Grand Theft Auto series. First, (run by the fine and dandy Dennis McCauley, with whom I share these pages) reported that Rockstar's daddy (publisher), Take Two Interactive, had a secret sit-down with Jack Thompson, a crusader against violent games who most gamers consider to be . . . overzealous - and that is putting their thoughts about him in a way that can be printed here.

Details haven't been made public. Though Thompson never won a court case against Take Two, he's been a major pain to them. Some observers see this meeting as a sit-down with the enemy, giving ground, giving up the fight.

Anyway, in other news, Rockstar's Manhunt 2, a sequel to an already infamously violent (but, oh, so fun) title, was banned in the U.K. this week. It was set to hit the Wii, PlayStation 2, and PlayStation Portable next month. The U.K. ratings group, the British Board of Film Classification, said, "There is sustained and cumulative casual sadism in the way in which these killings are committed, and encouraged, in the game."

Rockstar's response: "Manhunt 2 is an entertainment experience for fans of psychological thrillers and horror. The subject matter of this game is in line with other mainstream entertainment choices for adult consumers."

Well, be careful what you wish for, as our own U.S. ratings group, the ESRB, gave the game an AO rating.

That's "adults only." Like porn.

Nintendo, Microsoft, and Sony have issued statements saying that they don't allow AO rated games on their consoles. So Manhunt 2 may be completely sunk in its current form.

Why console manufacturers seem to think the ever-growing demographic of older gamers can't think for themselves is beyond me.

Playboys (and girls)

The Championship Gaming Series, a video-game league coming to Direct TV, had its draft last week. Guess where? The Playboy Mansion. Playboy is a sponsor of the CGS.

The league will pay salaries and bonuses of around $5 million.

The first pick was made by the GM of the San Francisco OPTX team and awesome gamer, Kat Hunter, who chose another dope female gamer, Vanessa Arteaga.

Hmmm, Playboy Bunny or great girl gamer? I'll take the gamer.

Sayonara, Kutaragi-san

Sony's Ken Kutaragi officially left the building this week. Known as the Father of the PlayStation, "K-to-the-double" made Sony's console a household name, not only to gamers, but to the world at large. PlayStation lifted gaming out of its geeky status.

The $600 price tag of the PS3 has left it languishing at the bottom of the console lineup, and its high-profile games are still a ways off. But it is still early, and with a very believable rumor of a price drop coming soon, Kutaragi could still have the last laugh.

Regardless, his place in gaming history is secure.

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