Universal Appeal: Hollywood Pins Hope on iPhone Tie-In with PS3

As if the reams of games hitting the App Store on a weekly basis aren’t enough, those of you looking for another way to expand your playtime with your iPhone will be pleased to hear that movie giant Universal Studios has you in their sights. In an ambitious plan announced on Monday, Universal plans to incorporate iPhone-enabled features on forthcoming Blu-ray releases.

Gamers who have an wi-fi-connected Blu-ray player-’“ namely a PS3-’“ will be able to link Blu-ray discs up to a free app on the iPhone, which will attempt to plant players straight in the movie itself.

Well, in a fashion. The first release to ship with such futuristic features will be Fast & Furious, due out on July 28th. Anyone who picks up the release will be able to use the iPhone’s touchscreen to dive straight into an “interactive virtual car garage” from the movie, moving about the set at their leisure in a manner akin to the parking lot featured back in Project Gotham Racing 2 on Xbox.

‘By harnessing Blu-ray technology and combining it with Apple’s highly acclaimed iPod Touch and iPhone, we continue to raise the bar in delivering an array of unprecedented, user-friendly home entertainment experiences,” Universal Studios’ Craig Kornblau told the press. “Bridging these platforms further broadens the scope of the digital landscape by paving the way for innovative new applications and interactive content enhancements that continue to uniquely engage consumers.”

The app itself will be called BD-Live and it will seemingly work in a similar way to the current app BD Touch, which links up with Blu-ray players like the PS3 to turn your iPhone into a remote control. However, Universal aims to go a step further, letting players actually interact with the titles they buy, signaling a more direct link between Apple’s mobile device and the PS3. If successful, BD-Live could open the door to further tie-ins, the possibility of using the iPhone to control movie-themed mini-games on your PS3 becoming a genuine prospect.

Any such moves are unlikely to be directly approved by either Apple or Sony, since the two parties are effectively competitors in the handheld market, but it does provide a prime example of the iPhone’s ability to blur the borders between gaming and other types of entertainment. What will we see next? Will game publishers seize the opportunity to add another level to their home console titles? As always, your views are a welcome addition in the comments section.

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