Saturday, December 08, 2007

Halo 3 Class Action Lawsuit for not really being HD

Joystiq posted that a class action lawsuit is being filed against Bungie for false advertising of Halo 3 because Halo 3 is not really HD, it's just scaled to display in HD. Bungie admitted so in a weekly update post to their site just a few days after Halo 3 was released on September 25, 2007. Halo 3's engine renders to a 1152x640 framebuffer, actually 2 of them due to their lighting schem, making Halo 3 run internally at 640p. That image is then scaled to whatever your Xbox 360 is set to output to, 480i, 480p, 720p, 1080i, or 1080p. What is the minimum HD resolution? I think it is minimally 720p. Is a lot of fuss being made about 80 pixels? Actually no, we are missing 183,040 pixels, that sounds like quite a number of pixels. When you read Bungie's post, it is clear they thought they made the right decision, and I in no way would dispute their decision, what I am interested in as is the lawsuit is whether people buying Halo 3 have an expectation that the game is in actual HD, not scaled to to HD resolution. Put another way, if I bought an HD-DVD, and it says on the back of the box the movie is in 1080p, should I expect to see a 480p movie scaled to 1080p? The answer is clear cut, no. It would seem to not matter how little the Halo 3 engine "cheats", or how good the 360 can scale to HDTV resolutions, what matters is if I expected Halo 3 to be in HD and I got what I expected. Let's look at some images.
Halo 3 InfoWhen you go to the Halo 3 game detail page on you see the image on the left. You could interpret that a number of ways, but without any preceding text, I would expect that the same runs in 1080p, which is 1920x1080, not scaled to it. That makes Halo 3 1,335,040 pixels shy of a true 1080p HDTV image. That is a huge number. Scaling can only get you so far before it's noticeable, you can't just invent millions of pixels without anyone noticing. Scaling down, no problem there, my equipment isn't up to snuff, but scaling up without consumer knowing about it, I have a huge problem with that. What about when you buy an Xbox 360, is anything said on the marketing that would lead someone to believe High Definition was a feature?
Xbox 360 HD ComponentXbox 360 HDMI ReadyOn the Xbox 360 Pro info page, you see the text in the images to the left in different spots on the page, but that's it. Microsoft's language here never explicitly says something like Experience gaming in True HD, but I do think the expectation is created between what you see on the Halo 3 site, and the retail box, and what you see on the Xbox 360 site that you are going to be gaming in true high-definition, the image you see will be native HD, not scaled to that output resolution.
I don't think it's a stretch all, I know that is what I expected with the 360 and absolutely for Halo 3. Apparently it's not just Halo 3 that has this problem, but a decent number of other games also render at less than HD resolutions.