Once again, Microsoft has squashed rumors that a Blu-ray drive for a refreshed Xbox 360 may be in the works. The company believes that DVD will remain the more important optical format at this time and that the real format battle may be fought online.
An article published by Home Media Magazine earlier this week quoted Shane Kim, head of Microsoft Games Studios, saying that while Blu-ray "provides some visual boost for people who want a physical HD format", Microsoft does not see "that format taking off, in general." Consequently, Kim stated that Microsoft is not working on "any type of Blu-ray disc add-on for the Xbox 360."
These quotes somewhat contradict a steady stream of rumors coming out of Taiwan, suggesting that a Blu-ray Xbox 360 is set for a September launch. However, according to Kim, the DVD format is still going strong and offers a better value proposition in an Xbox 360 that sells for substantially less than the Playstation 3 at this time.
Home Media Magazine indicated that Microsoft may put much stronger focus on its Live platform than on thinking a new optical drive. Kim told the publication that the "digital distribution business is one of the reasons Microsoft is so keenly focused on Sony, and not Nintendo" in this current state of the console battle. Kim noted that more than "380 million pieces of entertainment" have been downloaded so far to Xbox 360 consoles.
Interestingly enough, if Microsoft does not add a Blu-ray drive to its Xbox 360 it could lose some traction in this role to bridge the worlds of more casual, family-oriented gaming on the Wii and the expectations of "high-end" games on the PS3. Conceivably, this would put the Xbox 360 much closer to the Nintendo Wii, especially if those rumors about imminent launch of a Wii-like controller for the Microsoft console are true.
However, we are not entirely convinced that there will not be a Blu-ray drive for the Xbox 360 or what we described a few ago as Xbox 540. Sooner or later, the optical drive will be updated. It may be just a matter of time.