The battle between the Blu-ray and HD-DVD next-generation DVD formats has taken another twist, with Paramount Pictures announcing that it is dropping support for Sony's Blu-ray high definition format. The company will exclusively support the Microsoft-backed HD-DVD, further complicating the race between the competing technologies.

Paramount, which previously released movies in both formats, said HD-DVD is better for consumers due to its lower price when compared with Blu-ray, and is a technology families will be more willing to purchase.

The announcement affects all movies distributed by Paramount Pictures, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon Movies and MTV Films. Universal already exclusively supports HD DVD while Warner Bros releases movies in both HD formats.

Blu-ray still holds the lead in terms of exclusive support, however, as three of the six major film studios support Blu-ray in comparison to the two studios for HD DVD. Sony, Disney and 20th Century Fox all back Blu-ray. In terms of discs sold, Blu-ray also leads HD DVD by a margin of 2 to 1 in the US, according to figures released yesterday.

The move not only deals a minor blow to Sony's disc media and movie divisions, but to the company's PlayStation 3 (PS3) console. Consumers will likely be more reluctant to pay a premium for a Blu-ray-supporting gaming machine that doubles as a high-definition player assuming Blu-ray fails to become the standard.