Saturday, January 09, 2010

Editorial: How Will 3D Change the Future Of Gaming?

If you have been keeping up with the news surrounding CES or the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this week, you may have noticed one of the hugest trends at the show is 3D HDTV. Just about every major TV company introduced at least one 3D TV model for consumers to purchase. The first 3D televisions will arrive as soon as Spring. These televisions will require shutter glasses in which each lens darkens alternatively creating a 3D picture. Sony has shown off many games including Motorstorm, Wipeout HD, Super Stardust HD, and Gran Turismo 5 all running in 3D. PlayStation 3 will receive a firmware update this year allowing it to play 3D games with your new 3D TV. A separate update will allow it to play 3D Blu Ray movies.

I have always been a huge supporter of 3D. I love seeing 3D movies at the movie theater and would love to have that same experience in the home. The experience in the cinema uses a dual projector and a special screen to make the image viewable with plastic 3D glasses. Some movies like X-Games 3D, Toy Story Double Feature, and Avatar have seriously impressed me and have shown 3D is not at all a gimmick. It is a way of making the experience more immersive, as if you were peaking into the window of another world. However, when I saw The Final Destination in 3D, I did look at it as a complete gimmick. It did not use the technology to the scope that other movies had. And unlike My Bloody Valentine 3D, it did not hide the fact that the movie was absolutely terrible. As you can see, I have a lot of experience with the new digital 3D technology in the theater.

When surveyed, more than 60% of people who walked out of a 3D movie have said that they want this technology in their home. Although content will be scarce for launch, 3D TVs will become more popular, speculated to be selling in the tens of millions in 2014. When I went to actually see a 3D TV in action, the response sounded nothing like this. SonyStyle stores currently have Sony's new 3D Bravia TVs releasing this Summer on display with 3D content showing on them. I went today to my local SonyStyle store, just one of less than 45 locations to check out the 3D experience. I got to play Wipeout HD on the 3D display. As I was playing, many people around me were saying very negative things about the TV and the experience in general. I will admit that although playing Wipeout HD in 3D was a much better experience than playing in 2D, I was not impressed by this piece of content. The 3D TV worked perfectly as it was supposed to. There was no issues concerning the glasses which felt comfortable. Because of the shutter glasses, the colors were a little darker but unlike the red and blue anaglyph glasses, all the colors were clearly there which makes it not a big deal. It made the track feel longer and made you more aware of the vehicles passing but it really did fail the show the potential of 3D.

People think that this thing is gonna be very expensive and not worth it. People also have an issue with wearing the glasses. The truth is that when uneducated (when I say that I mean they do not know much about technology) consumers see new technology for the first time, they think with their wallets and not with their heads. If you tell them the idea of the product rather than showing it off, they then think with their heads. The truth is that 3D TVs will cost as much as the high end HDTV models currently available, much cheaper than when HDTVs first came out. The shutter glasses will be expensive costing between $50-$100 per pair. Just like you wear headphones to listen to music, you wear 3D glasses to enjoy 3D content on a screen. I even agree it will be a huge problem when there is not enough glasses to go around but glasses-free 3D will arrive within the next 5-7 years when the technology is the same experience and resolution as the glasses technology.

Through my two minute experience, I can say that 3D will bring a lot to the future of home entertainment as it has brought to the cinema. 3D video games will be amazing and will immerse the player more into the game. NVIDIA's GeForce 3D Vision technology for PCs has been a hit with gamers bringing more than 350 PC games to life in 3D. This does require a new monitor and $200 software with shutter glasses included but that clearly is currently the best way to experience games in 3D and gamers who have adopted the technology love it. There is a huge amount of potential for 3D in the home and especially with 3D games. Once it becomes even more affordable, many of these negative thoughts by consumers will drop and all there will be in the future are 3D TVs. Like the jump from standard definition to high definition TVs, the jump to 3D will be one that will happen at twice the speed and video games will shine as it will be the way we play games in the future.

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