At their pre-Tokyo Game Show press briefing in Tokyo today, Kotaku reports, Microsoft announced that the Xbox 360 will support 1080p content (games AND movies) through the fall update. Shane Kim, corporate VP of Microsoft Game Studios, says that the update will allow the Xbox 360 to upscale current 720p games to 1080p (much like original Xbox games are upscaled from 480p to 720p/1080i). He also stated that while third party developers may choose to develop games at 1080p, Microsoft currently has no plans to release any games which support this resolution. This is consistent with Microsoft's statements all along that 720p is truly the "sweet spot" of HD gaming.
This has to be Sony's worst nightmare come true. Now they no longer have the ability to claim they are the only "true HD" system, they are now merely doing what Microsoft is doing at a much higher price. While I find it hard to believe that anyone but a video professional has the ability to actually see the difference between 720p and 1080p, I think that this is a tremendous move by Microsoft to cut off Sony before they can even use that slight "advantage" in the numbers. Consoles have very often been marketed by their numbers (8bit vs. 16bit vs. 32bit) and gimmicks (anyone remember blast processing?); this is both. It's important because most consumers are relatively uneducated about the ins and outs of HDTV and will more than likely fall back on the winning answer of "more is better." This makes that decision that much harder for anyone simply comparing stats between the PS3 and Xbox 360. Hopefully it will take the emphasis off of the numbers and back on the quality of the games and experience, where it belongs.
This is a very exciting announcement because it will put the two systems on a more even footing and shows Microsoft's ability to adapt to the challenges other console makers present to them. This type of competition benfits gamers as they push each other.
Does this make any difference in your next-gen gaming plans? Do you think it will make any appreciable difference in this edition of the console wars?