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Sony: 3D costs as low as "half a per cent of overheads"

Thu 04 Aug 2011 7:00am GMT / 3:00am EDT / 12:00am PDT
Publishing

3D is a cheap and easy addition to console games, according to Sony's Benson

Sony Computer Entertainment

Sony Computer Entertainment is a Japanese videogame company specialising in a variety of areas in the...

playstation.com

SCEE's senior development manager Simon Benson has told GamesIndustry.biz that the cost of implementing 3D into home console games is so low as to become negligible.

"In some cases we've had titles where 3D has been half a per cent of overhead," he said.

"It can literally be the render programmer spending a couple of weeks manipulating it. Particularly if a game already has split screen in it, just take that mode of the game and reauthor it to deliver really high quality 3D. So often it's the case of it doesn't even hit the radar of whether we should or shouldn't, it can just be done."

He believed people often mistakenly assume that the costs faced by film and television productions also apply to games.

"It's not of the same magnitude as it is with say, movies or live productions, and having to make that decision. It really comes down to do with if the game teams that are making these titles think that the experience they're putting together is compelling enough and the title lends itself enough to this technology to add that feature in."

Simon Benson has been working with 3D at SCEE for two years, supporting internal and external studios. The full interview can be read here.

13 Comments

Looks like 3D implementation is straightforward enough

however...

The question is, can 3D (display units + game accessories) be affordable and sustainable as a mid-term business during global economic hardship whereby luxury goods become a must have item vs everyday issues such as affording a mortgage/rent, rising energy and fuel bills, and affording food. This is because I doubt if the global GDP will recover for the next 2-3 years (probably 5 years in certain countries such as Portugal Italy Greec Spain and US)

Short of making it the must have holiday item, the way apple have touted their cult of mac devices, its a really tough fight to sell 3D when folks are just catching onto HDTV

Posted:3 years ago

#1

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
It would be interesting to see if adding 3D, even if it is only 0.5% (of what, 0.5% of $60M, or 0.5% of $200k?) adds 0.5% of added sales. Take a triple AAA shooter that needs 2 million sales to break even, are 10,000 extra people buying it becuase of 3D, when they wouldn't have bought it otherwise?
This is not meant as a rhetorical question, (I appreciate it may have sounded like one), I would genuinely like to know if there are any numbers.

Posted:3 years ago

#2

John Donnelly Quality Assurance

313 38 0.1
I can see some of where he is coming from, but the main problem for 3D in games is this.

How many 3D displays are in the hands of the millions of home console owners at this time?
Is that 1/2% better spent elsewhere to drive more sales?
Also what about the overall quality impact of the game?
Rendering the game for 3D adds resource overhead that might be better used to keep the gamer running at your target FPS without any slowdown or lag.

Posted:3 years ago

#3

Antony Carter Senior Programmer, Epic Games

85 47 0.6
Well it takes about 0.001% to support Remote Play on PS3 and no one does that. Its just a tick box and maybe a control remap depending on your game. So good luck with 3D support.

Posted:3 years ago

#4

Fabien Roussot Game Developer, Big Bit Ltd

15 1 0.1
I believe all games should implement 3D if they can afford to (I'm thinking triple-A titles). Games are stunning in 3D. I can't afford any of this equipment myself yet, but if no games supporte 3D, no one will be compelled to get a 3D screen. And the more people will accept 3D, the more TV constructor will produce and price will eventually go down.

For the argument of how many people have 3D screens? Is it worth it? You would be surprise by the number of people that still runs a HD console on a an SD TV because the screen size is larger than any HD one they could afford. And yet all games are in HD.

Posted:3 years ago

#5

Tommy Thompson Studying Artificial Intelligence (PhD), University of Strathclyde

110 0 0.0
While the costs are significantly lower than that faced by hollywood, I'm thinking along the lines of Andrew. Is there an audience for this product? Sure, it is not a significant overhead, but it's still money that is spent to cater to what could be a very niche market. At present 3D TVs are still a novelty item for those with plenty of money and arguably some impulse control issues. Is there evidence to suggest that this market will grow at a rate sufficient to justify the expense? Even if we taken Andrews hypothetical $60M figure, that's $300,000 being spent on 3D conversion in the best case.

There is a lot of talk right now about the future direction of 3D in cinemas given rumours of audience (dis)interest and box office figures, coupled with the damage being made by shoddy post production conversions. Should interest in 3D diminish in cinemas, will there still be a market for home use?

So I guess what I'm asking is, should this money be spent on a feature that may only be adopted by a small percentage of users, or on improving the existing product? If the market can justify the expense, sure, but technology is moving faster than the average consumer can handle due to high entry price points and current financial uncertainty.

I'm not being cynical or rhetorical, I would just like someone to justify it.

Posted:3 years ago

#6
As a glasses wearer im not into 3D at all, and I doubt that I will be until the need for 3D specs is no longer a requirement OR gamers and film watchers such as myself can buy 3D specs with prescription lenses at an affordable cost..

Posted:3 years ago

#7

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
I foundwhilst contact lenses make 3D glasses a lot easier, looking at the glasses free 3D of my friend's son's 3DS made my eyes go funny, even if 3D was low. I heard there were problems for some people with astigmatic eyes. So for me glasses free 3D isn't any more appealing right now.

Posted:3 years ago

#8

Kieren Bloomfield Software Engineer, EA Sports

96 87 0.9
While I can't argue against the fact that on a technical level adding 3D support is cheap I still think they've missed the point. On a design and production level it's a completely different thing. The reason for Avatar's success was that it was directed to be in 3D. Just taking any old 2D content and putting it in 3D just isn't compelling. I can't see any games studio spending the resources in making 3D their focus when it's only a fraction of a percent of their audience.

Posted:3 years ago

#9
Andrew, in answer to your question, I'm that fickle that I would buy a new shooter if it had 3D. I crave 3D games on my massive 3D TV. There is not enough IMO. But as a 3D TV owner I would say that.

Posted:3 years ago

#10

Rod Oracheski Editor, Star News

58 23 0.4
The costs might be relatively low, though having someone spend "a couple of weeks" during production is likely costly in other ways, but at this point the potential audience is lower still.

Posted:3 years ago

#11

Andrew Wilson 3D Artist

29 2 0.1
Unless that programmer already has access to 3D output tech then I'm pretty sure there are some extra costs to worry about.
I would spend that extra 1% on marketing, since that what will sell the game!

Posted:3 years ago

#12

Andrew Goodchild Studying development, Train2Game

1,254 421 0.3
I see the 3 pillars of mass media entertainment as business, entertainment and artistic expression. So any decision like this would have to be made based on at least one (preferably 2) of these.
Will adding it be more profitable? (the most important to the financial backers, who unlessthey, like Sony, are also trying to sell 3D viewing hardware, may be reluctant to bet on yes unless they see examples)
Does it make the game more fun, at least to a significant percentage of your audience? (Some people claim it adds immersion, but equally some people see things as blurry and find it addsfrustration, so do these balance out)
Does it add to the product artistically? (This one may be hardest. This is quite possible, but the artistic concept would have to be built to incorporate 3D, which arguably means thatit would have to be aimed squarely at a 3D audience. So even on 3DS it would be no good for anyone who turns off 3D slider. Any game that can be played just as well in 2D, hasn't really got 3D that tied in on an artistic level, if taking the art of the game as the whole experience rather than the visuals in isolation).

If you can definitely answer yes to one or more of these, add 3D. If not, it doesn't matter if the extra cost is 12.72, because it is totally pointless.

Posted:3 years ago

#13

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