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Sony, Netflix, and Microsoft made announcements last week that certainly show that the days of video game systems acting only as video game systems are a thing of the past.
Back in the late 70's, my only Christmas wish was for an Atari 2600. After toying with me all through gift opening, my parents fulfilled my wish, and my brother and I spent many bleary hours playing Space Invaders, Breakout, and Combat. I even pegged the points counter on Video Pinball, and I think my brother caught every fish in Activision's Fishing Derby. Missile Command was the most sophisticated game and was highly regarded at the time as pushing the limits of the platform.
Ah, those were the days. Now, the Sony PlayStation 3 has enough computing power to make the WOPR from WarGames look like a TRS-80 Model I, and the high definition graphics on both the PS3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360 make Night Driver's purple cone graphics look downright silly.
One could argue that today's games have nothing on the gameplay of those classic titles, but my Atari would never dream of downloading Cloverfield or interfacing with Netflix so that I could watch Pan's Labyrinth instantly.
And that's just what has been announced last week. The high definition game systems from Sony and Microsoft are delivering movies, some in high definition, to your living room in ways that were only a dream just a few years ago. Microsoft launched movie downloads on its Xbox Live network some time ago, and Sony just announced that 300 full-length movies and 1,200 TV shows are now available for download via its PlayStation Network.
Microsoft and Netflix also announced last week that they have teamed up to deliver the Netflix "Watch Instantly" movie and TV library to Xbox Live Gold members that are also Netflix subscribers. The new service will launch in "late Fall."
We live in interesting times, indeed. Not only are game systems playing movies, but next generation movie players are connecting to the Internet and delivering game play and interactivity that the original DVD players never dreamed of. It certainly seems that the the long-standing promises of convergence are finally getting their day!
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