Microsoft drops 360's HD DVD player

Hardware maker plans to cease manufacturing high-def add-on for flagship console, will continue to provide warranty support; price crashes to as low as $50 at online retailers.

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The last backers of Toshiba's HD DVD format are jumping ship in the wake of the electronics company backing out of the format wars. In a statement on Microsoft's Gamerscore Blog, the Xbox 360 maker said it would no longer be manufacturing its HD DVD peripheral, though it will continue providing warranty support for all add-ons purchased by console owners.

"As a result of recent decisions made by Toshiba, Hollywood studios, and retailers, Microsoft plans to withdraw from HD DVD," Microsoft said in its statement. "Xbox will no longer manufacture new HD DVD players for the Xbox 360, but we will continue to provide standard product and warranty support for all Xbox 360 HD DVD Players in the market. As we stated earlier, we do not believe this decision will have any material impact on the Xbox 360 platform or our position in the marketplace. HD DVD is one of the several ways we offer a high definition experience to consumers and we will continue to give consumers the choice to enjoy digital distribution of high definition movies and TV shows directly to their living room, along with playback of the DVD movies they already own."

The format war abruptly shifted toward a resolution in January when HD DVD-exclusive backer Warner Bros. defected to Sony's Blu-ray camp, joining other major Hollywood studios Sony Pictures, 20th Century Fox, and Walt Disney Studios. The news quickly sent HD DVD into a tailspin, culminating in Toshiba pulling the plug on the format and remaining Hollywood majors Paramount and Universal pledging Blu-ray allegiance.

Ringing in February, Microsoft initiated a fire sale of sorts on the failed video playback format player, slashing the price of its HD DVD add-on by $50 to $129. However, most major retailers have taken a more aggressive approach to clearing inventory, with the HD DVD player available for $50 to $65 at many online retailers such as Best Buy and Amazon.

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