3D technology in the home has yet to achieve mass penetration in any sector. Sales of compatible TVs may be increasing, but they have yet to claim a majority of households.
Similarly, the number of 3D films in cinemas is on the rise, but has yet to become the standard. And for all the investment the industry has made, 3D gaming has yet to establish itself as the rule rather than the exception.
Nintendo made perhaps the greatest advance in 2011 with the launch of the 3DS, while Sony will up the ante this year with the release of a 3D games monitor. Microsoft remains steadfastly neutral about the whole affair, but has made the Xbox 360 3D ready and added stereoscopic modes to Gears of War 3 and Halo Anniversary.
Even third-party publishers offer a 3D mode in titles such as Batman: Arkham City, Sonic Generations and Battlefield 3 – but other compatible releases are few and far between.
Previously, MCV has discussed what it will take for the masses to embrace 3D, but perhaps the more pressing question is whether or not demand for the technology even exists.
Simon Benson – Senior Development Manager, 3D Team
If you are a soldier, professional sportsperson or surgeon, it is likely that you need 3D vision to do your job. To simulate their real-world activities, 3D visuals are typically essential and so professional simulators have utilised stereoscopic 3D for many years.
3D can greatly increase visual immersion – possibly more so than the transition from SD to HD gaming.
The significant benefits that 3D adds to gaming also makes it a key driver for 3DTV uptake. Currently 3DTVs are widely available and apparently selling faster than HDTVs were at the same point in their lifecycle – which is even more significant given economic issues.
Let’s not forget though, that 3D gaming is still in its infancy. As a result there are plenty of opportunities to innovate and deliver groundbreaking experiences that naturally attract lots of interest and publicity.
Alex Wiltshire – Online Editor, Edge
This isn’t about the industry needing it. Arguments about the technology driving TV and hardware sales in a saturated marketplace are for suited execs. No, this is about the games themselves needing 3D.
Since 3DS’ release I’ve begun to feel a deep affection for stereoscopic 3D. It started with experiencing Ghost Recon: Shadow War’s playfield as if it’s a little model with toy soldiers. It continued by enjoying the sense of space in Star Fox 64 3D. It grew by better appreciating Link’s relationship with his world in Zelda: Ocarina Of Time 3D. And by Super Mario 3D Land and Pullblox, the effect had become an indelible part of the game.
So much so, in fact, that I genuinely missed it in Skyward Sword.
Few companies get 3D like Nintendo does. And I’m still not prepared to both invest in the new TV and wear the glasses – it’s up to manufacturers to make all that worthwhile. But the titles specifically crafted for 3DS prove that gaming is peculiarly appropriate for the sense of form, relation and volume that the effect at its best can yield.
Lee Kirton – Marketing Director, Namco Bandai Partners
3D has been around for a very long time and in some cases I really do like it. I enjoy the 3D experience in some gaming genres but not in others. I think it depends on the experience itself and what you want from it.
I treat 3D as an event. I do enjoy playing the 3DS and the feeling that it delivers and I’ve also enjoyed many current gen games in 3D. I’ve yet to get immersed in the home entertainment 3D and Sky 3D but I really do put that down to individual tastes.
Overall, it’s good to have it available in gaming and it’s down to personal choice in the end as to what each gamer or movie fan wants. For me, it depends on what the product is.
David Houghton – Content Editor, GamesRadar
Every so often, a new technology turns up and instantaneously opens up a raft of new possibilities in the creation and consumption of games. Online connectivity has transformed how we share gaming. Even the much-maligned motion control has, at times, provided genuinely immersive experiences in naturalistic game-world interaction.
But so far I have found 3D to be nothing more than an opportunistic chancer, trying to blag its way into that exclusive club of game-changers using a dog-eared, photocopied fake ID and hastily assembled bum-fluff.
For me, 3D adds nothing but slight and short-lived garnish at the high-cost of clarity and immersion. The effect itself brings with it the potential for no meaningful new design additions bar the same cheap jump-scare gimmicks it has peddled since the ‘50s.
As for those claims of a tangible connection to the game world? Pah. I’ve never found 3D technology to be anything other than a heaving great wrecking ball for the fourth wall. Even when done well, the effect is never natural enough to be fully immersive, creating a wibbly depth-perception uncanny valley.
All that, and I need to recalibrate my much-prized, none-more-anally honed TV picture settings to counteract the lens tint? Seriously people, why are we doing this?
Joe Robinson – Deputy Editor, Strategy Informer
The main issue I have with 3D technology in general is that I personally think it’s come too early.
Now that the HD-format war is long over and high definition content is catered for in nearly every corner of technology, it’s painfully obvious that companies were just looking for a new band-wagon to jump on. And so they have used 3D as their new vessel for over-priced and unnecessary products.
I know several households that don’t even have HDTVs yet, and I don’t know anyone who has made the leap to 3D gaming – even among hardcore PC enthusiasts. Right now 3D is little more than a gimmick, and an expensive one at that. Don’t get me wrong – I played a bit of Crysis 2 in 3D, and it did look pretty good, but in terms of gameplay and functionality, it did nothing for the game.
Considering 3D gaming requires the use of extra (and expensive) 3D glasses (not to mention yet another TV), to justify the extra expense, something like 3D really needs to add more than a nice visual touch to the gameplay experience.
Nintendo, bless their hearts, have tried to get around that particular issue with glasses-less 3D, but again it’s little more than a gimmick. Then there’s the fact that a percentage of the population can’t even interact with 3D content, and the headaches it can cause amongst others.
With any luck, the bubble will burst and everyone will realise it’s too soon, and perhaps everything will calm down. There’s a time and a place for something like 3D – it’s just not now.
Simon Kilby – Founder, Playr2
There’s a reason Nintendo had to cut the cost of the 3DS after only a few months – and that’s because your casual gamer just doesn’t care about 3D gaming.
Another example is with Batman: Arkham Asylum’s Game of the Year edition. I must have played the game using the included 3D glasses for a grand total of a couple of minutes, before getting wound up and throwing them in rage for completely ruining the experience.
I don’t know what it is about 3D, but the apparent need to force it upon consumers across film, TV and gaming has to stop. If something doesn’t add to the experience, it shouldn’t be employed in the first place. The gaming industry is better than resorting to fads.