Forget motion 3D to dominate E3

Natal and Move may be highly anticipated, but publishers have told MCV they are gambling on 3D to wow the world at this month’s E3.

Nintendo will reveal its 3D handheld at the LA-based event, Sony will showcase a vast line-up of 3D titles including Gran Turismo 5, while MCV expects at least three major publishers to lift the lid on blockbuster 3D projects.

Leading games firms say 3D will be used in the most advanced gaming software, rather than the lower-end casual projects currently being lined-up for Natal and Move – but 3D titles are still expected to have a mass-market reach.

What we are trying to do in the 3D space is part of a cross-Sony initiative,” said SCEE CEO and president Andrew House. We’ve realised, particularly for a younger audience, that games can be an easier way for people to engage with 3D than movies.

This will be on the cutting edge of gaming for the next year or two. If Avatar taught us one thing in an age of globalisation, it’s that when consumers embrace something it moves quickly. This is definitely a wave of the future and one that we intend to ride.”

Namco Bandai Partners chief Olivier Comte reckons 3D is more significant than any motion controlling device: Natal and Move are two new tools, but I don’t think either are the next revolution of games,” he said. I believe the next revolution will be 3D. I have tested some 3D games and I think it is a big change.”

3D has already helped revitalise film. In March, Cineworld cited 3D movies as the driver behind its 17 per cent increase in box office takings. The chain will now roll out an extra 102 3D screens.

TV companies are also gambling on 3D to boost profits after a difficult recession. Sky launched its 3D channel in April and Screen Digest estimates that over 180,000 Brits will have compatible set in their homes by 2011 – jumping to 7m by 2015.

But not everyone in gaming is immediately convinced. EA Sports has been experimenting with 3D tech but doesn’t feel it adds value to its line-up.

We are looking at 3D but there are challenges,” said EA Sports president Peter Moore.

I’ve seen a number of our games running in 3D, and we’re learning that we can’t take the existing camera angles. You have to get lower and have depth of field to actually see it.

You’ve got to look at things differently than just porting to 3D, because 50 per cent of what you are seeing you can’t even tell it’s 3D. I’m not sure it adds value to the experience.”

Take-Two CEO Ben Feder added: The use of 3D needs to be meaningful to the gamer and publishers will need to ask questions. Will it draw players further into my world? Will it change how they interact with the game? Will it make the title more fun and keep the player engaged? The answers need to be ‘yes’ for them to fit into our strategy of being a leader in innovation and quality.”

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