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Blu-ray Disc gains gaming support

Electronic Arts, Vivendi Universal Games choose a side in the battle of next-gen DVD formats

Electronic Arts and Vivendi Universal Games, both major game software makers, are due to announce their support for the Blu-ray Disc optical disc format.

The two companies are scheduled to make the announcement on Thursday afternoon at the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, according to Blu-ray Disc Association member-company sources who did not wish to be named.

Recent months have seen many of the major Hollywood studios signal support for either Blu-ray Disc or the competing HD-DVD format, but game software publishers have been largely quiet on their plans.

Both Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD are based on blue lasers and can accommodate several times the amount of data that today's DVD discs can store. Movie companies are interested in the formats because the extra storage space allows enough room for a high-definition movie, while game companies are interested in using the extra space to add more graphics, interactivity, and complexity to their titles.

Sony is a major backer of Blu-ray Disc technology and its Sony Computer Entertainment subsidiary has already said it will use Blu-ray Disc in its next home game console, the successor to the PlayStation 2, which is expected to be released sometime in 2006. Microsoft and Nintendo, which compete with Sony in the console market, have yet to make similar announcements.

In the personal computer market, both Dell and HP are members of the Blu-ray Disc Association, and HP recently said it is planning to release PCs with Blu-ray Disc drives later this year. On the competing side, NEC and Toshiba said they will add HD-DVD support to some of their PCs or offer compatible drives later this year.

Electronic Arts makes games for all major game platforms, and its lineup includes some of the most popular sports-themed games on the market. Vivendi Universal's products include a number of major PC and console titles, and the company counts itself as the number two PC game software maker.

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