Boston (TheNextXbox) – The successor to the Xbox 360 is right around the corner, as the Major Nelson countdown has the entire gaming world on alert. One thing that is almost a given with the successor to the Xbox 360, for the sake of this article we will call it the Xbox Next, is that it will include a Blu-ray optical drive. This is due to the fact that next-generation games are going to require a lot more space than is currently available on a DVD. This type of optical format has been utilized by Sony throughout the life of the PlayStation 3 and will continue forward to the upcoming PlayStation 4 in all likelihood as well. What many gamers are missing though, is that there is a real chance that Microsoft may opt against allowing Blu-ray movie playback on the Xbox Next.
Microsoft has already set a precedent in the past in terms of not allowing movie playback out of the box with its gaming consoles. When Microsoft launched the original Xbox, gamers were not able to play DVD movies right out of the box. Instead, Microsoft required gamers to purchase a little DVD playback adapter that came with a remote control. This activated the ability that the system already had to play DVD movies. Microsoft received a lot of flack for this move, and did away with the idea with the Xbox 360, allowing DVD movie playback right out of the box.
There have been a lot of changes though since the original Xbox and even the Xbox 360 launched. This is all due to the fact that Microsoft has a cash cow that they are relying on heavily in the form of Xbox Live, and Xbox Live Gold subscriptions. So how does this relate to Blu-ray movie playback and why should you care?
The fact of the matter is that Microsoft earns a lot of money off of Xbox Live Gold subscriptions, which provide gamers with a great deal of content in the form of streaming movies, television shows, and more. This comes from providers including Netflix, Hulu, and others.
Simply stated, Microsoft would much rather you pay for Xbox Live Gold and subscribe to streaming content over Netflix and Hulu than have you throw a Blu-ray movie into your console and watch it from the optical disc format.
Xbox Live Gold subscriptions generate roughly $1 billion in revenue for Microsoft every year, and the more that they can grow this service, the more profitable their gaming unit is going to be overall.
There is a double-edged sword here with this potential move from Microsoft. First, Microsoft would be sticking it to Sony, and second, they would be making a move to increase their own revenue. Looking back in history, Microsoft backed the HD-DVD format while Sony has Blu-ray. We all saw how HD-DVD fared as it no longer exists. Blu-ray is and has been considered a Sony format. Microsoft not allowing Blu-ray movie playback would be a shot to Sony, as it would take away from the viability of the format, and it would also require gamers to stream more content over their console, thus increasing the money Microsoft gets to pocket.
This may sound crazy, but it is not out of the realm of possibility for Microsoft to take this bold move, even if they tick some gamers off in the process.