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Comment: Google Play Movies needs a way to upgrade purchased movies to better formats

As DVD and Blu-ray sales continue to drop, more people are turning to online, digital subscription platforms like Netflix and Hulu to consume content. But if you want to own this content, you have to purchase it through services such as Google Play Movies and iTunes.

Now that 4K is becoming more popular, consumers might want to upgrade their movies to the best quality available, but with Play Movies, this isn’t possible…

I first came across this problem when the film Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them became available to purchase through the Play Store. As I stopped buying physical DVDs and Blu-rays several years ago, all of my movies are bought, stored, and enjoyed through Play Movies. When Fantastic Beasts went on sale, I was saddened to find that I was only able to purchase it in HD (1080p).

Now, well past the initial release, Fantastic Beasts is now being offered in UHD (4K), but because I had already purchased the movie, there’s no way for me to upgrade the resolution of my copy of the film. This is a problem that many other than myself are running into as they begin to replace their old TVs.

There are two ways that Google can address this problem: allow users to pay a fee to upgrade or simply give users the ability to purchase the UHD version of the movie separately. Obviously, most customers would want Google to go with the first option because it means spending less money to get the better version. The HD version of movie typically cost $12 to $15 while UHD films cost around $30.

No way to upgrade from HD to UHD

But it’s entirely ludicrous that the second option, where customers would have to purchase the movie all over again, is also not available. This would probably be the more likely (and easier) route for Google to take. This is also the option that resembles the process in which someone would have to go through if they wanted to upgrade their DVDs to Blu-rays. It looks like Google customer support do this for you if you give them a call, but it’s definitely not easy.

Either way, Google isn’t giving customers the ability to enjoy the movie that they’ve purchased previously in the way that they eventually want to. As 4K becomes more established and more of the general public update their in-home hardware, movie industries will most likely release higher resolution versions of its films. Until Google fixes this problem, customers will be out of luck and stuck with their lower quality digital movies.

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Avatar for Justin Duino Justin Duino

I’m a writer for 9to5Google with a background in IT and Android development. Follow me on Twitter to read my ramblings about tech and email me at Tips are always welcome.