Does the Microsoft XBOX team really “get” HD?

I have been meaning to write about this for while ever since I watched J Allard speech from this year’s GDC.  J talks about how the XBOX team "gets" High Definition television.  I am not so convinced.  I guess we will really have to wait until the XBOX2 comes out but the current trend does not really seem to indicate that they do. 

Here is one prediction I am going to make which will support the fact that Microsoft does not "get" HD.  The XBOX2 will not support HD-DVD or Blu-Ray natively in the box.  I just bet that they cut corners to get the thing out the door.  If you do not know much about HD-DVD (Toshiba & NEC) vs. Blu-Ray (Sony) there is a good set of info here.  If Microsoft really "gets" HD then they really should support this in the box.  That would show that they "get" HD.

Personally I bought my widescreen 65" HD TV in preparation for buying an XBOX.  I was there day 1 with the system and was disappointed by the lack of true HD games at launch and even within the first year.  The total number of games that are 1080 (out of the 100s of games that are built for the system) is only a handful in the few years the system has been out.  There are a few that are 720 and if 480 is going to be the definition that Microsoft uses then we as game players are still going to be disappointed.  Some days I am not even sure Microsoft understands widescreen all that well.  I have it on good authority from friends that work at Microsoft that the widescreen bugs that shipped in Halo2 did not appear in the beta that the employees were testing — they broke it in the last few months (weeks?) of product development.  To the Bungie team’s credit they fixed it fairly quickly but I wonder if the certification process for XBOX games does not have a lot of tests for HD and I have to wonder if it will be better moving forward.
To understand just how Microsoft "gets" HD today in the XBOX games they develop I took a look at the back of all of my games from Microsoft to see which games support HD and that in and of itself is a bit confusing.  Perhaps the definition has been evolving in Redmond because they do not even use the same definition.  Here is what I found (three definitions):
Amped 2
Kakuto Chojin
NBA Inside Drive 2004
NFL Fever 2003 & 2004
Shenmue II
HDTV 480p
Blink 2: Master of space & time
Crimson Skies
Counter Strike
Grabbed by the Ghoulies
Halo 2
Kingdom Under Fire: The crusaders
Links 2004
Midtown Madness 3
Phantasy Star online episodes I & II
Project Gotham Racing 2
RalliSport Challenge 2
Top Spin
HDTV 16×9 — Is this supposed to be better or worse that 480p??  This is the latest MSFT game I have so it is unclear what direction they are going here.
Mechassault 2: Lone Wolf

Clearly not a big list of games in their own stable (I will leave it up to you to look over the list to see how many Microsoft made versus how many they just published) but the trend in 2004 was 100% HD support so maybe the tide is turning.  Maybe someone in XBOX like Larry Hryb aka Major Nelson or Microsoft blogger Robert Scoble have a better understanding of how Microsoft "gets" HD in the XBOX and they will write about it.  I look forward to E3 this year to see if HD in XBOX2 will include HD-DVD or if that feature falls by the wayside or does not match Microsoft’s definition of "getting" HD.  To date they seem to be leaning toward just 480p. 


About Aaron Bregel

Just trying to get by
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1 Response to Does the Microsoft XBOX team really “get” HD?

  1. Khal says:

    I think it would be unwise to pick a format at this juncture.

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