Two Microsoft Xbox Europe execs have launched an astonishing attack on Sony, the likes of which has not been seen for a long time in the CE Industry.

Talking to Eurogamer TV , Xbox UK boss Neil Thompson and Europe boss Chris Lewis both accused Sony of “forcing” its Blu-Ray DVD technology onto gamers.

“Sony are now making people pay an extra few hundred pounds for a Blu-Ray DVD drive which we don’t know is going to be the standard in the next-generation DVD formats,” Thompson insisted. “This is the company that brought out Betamax – we don’t quite know where they’re going to go with this,” he added, in a pointed reference to Sony’s defeat in the format war against VHS (note for younger readers: sort of like a cross between DVDs and “cassette tapes”).

Microsoft reckons Sony is playing right into its hands with the inclusion of Blu-Ray in the PS3, since Xbox 360 owners will have the option to upgrade to next-gen movie tech later this year with the release of a standalone HD-DVD drive.

“If gamers over time choose to go to HD-DVD we’re going to give them the choice to do that, but we’re not going to force them to buy that day one,” Thompson remarked.

“I find it concerning for consumers that they’re being forced into a purchase… I don’t think they need to make that decision for another two, three years maybe. Sony now have a very interesting business model I think they’re going to find challenging.”

Thompson’s frank views were backed by Europe boss Chris Lewis, who added: “[PS3’s] is an interesting price point that in my view forces the consumer down a choice path in a way that I’m surprised to see.”

Lewis also added that the high price of the PS3 means there’s less pressure on MS to reduce the price of the Xbox 360 before the year is out, commenting: “We’re confident that we are at the right price at the right time and will remain so, and nothing I’ve heard in the last two days does anything other than frankly reinforce that view.”

More to follow on the interview.

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