Sony "pinning its hopes" on 3D

LittleBigPlanet, GT5 look "absolutely stunning," says Blitz CTO; 2010 could be break through year for format

Sony Corporation is making a concentrated push to bring 3D entertainment to the home in 2010, with it's technology applied to games such as LittleBigPlanet, Gran Turismo 5 and MotorStorm: Pacific Rift already impressing advocates of the format.

Firmware updates will add 3D gaming capabilities to the PlayStation 3 and 3D movie functionality to the Blu-ray player later this year, and alongside the launch of its own dedicated 3D TV channel, and the success of the billion dollar Avatar movie, 2010 could be a break though year for the format.

"3D is an added thing and it hits every division that Sony has got," said Andrew Oliver, chief technical officer at Blitz Games, speaking in an interview published today. "Sony is really pinning its hopes on the world wanting 3D and everybody is basking in the glory of Avatar."

Sony used CES earlier this month to show off LittleBigPlanet, Gran Turismo 5, Major League Baseball, MotorStorm: Pacific Rift and Wipeout to the crowds, along with other tech from the entire Sony electronics division.

"The Sony stand was big with 3D games. They had an enormous stand with a theatre at one end and cinema projectors that are made by Sony, movie cameras made by Sony and they were showing Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs – a Sony ImageWorks film – in 3D, they had a Blu-ray player playing 3D film and then the PlayStation 3's were showing various games," detailed Oliver. "They looked absolutely stunning."

A standard format for 3D and the glasses required to view it has been adopted by all TV manufacturers, putting an end to early signs of a format war that could have hampered the adoption of 3D in the home, and fears that viewing 3D can be uncomfortable for the user are fading, said Oliver.

"3D isn't being done badly any more. You do it right and everyone loves it. Everyone feels that they don't need to keep trying to convince people now, it's been done for us with Avatar.

"The TVs have got one good standard which is perfect and exactly what we want and what the film companies want. Every TV manufacturer is bringing out a 3D model and there's no talk of 'what if it gives you a headache'. If you can watch a three hour film you've passed the test."

Blitz has already released one game in 3D, the digital download title Invincible Tiger, and Oliver revealed that the company has now signed off on a big new contract currently under wraps.

"We have agreed a very big 3D deal which is very good for us," he confirmed. "There are some people out there who really want to push 3D but I think when it comes to more general publishers, CES and the Avatar film will have turned a lot of heads."

For more of Andrew Oliver's opinions on 3D gaming and its future, the full interview can be read here.

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Latest comments (13)

Steve Morrison Lead Artist, Firebrand Games12 years ago
3D gaming has the potential to break through in 2010. I personally think that at best you might see a low level pick up by those addicted to "New" tech. I doubt it'll really make any major impact for a couple of years. As for 3D TV, that is a different story. There will be no break through of 3D TV for a good number of years. People are only just picking up full HD. Movies might get picked up quicker but I would like to see the percentage of people who have moved from DVD to any type of HD film format for the home yet as I doubt even that is high enough for any one to take the prospect of 3D movies or TV seriously.
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Joseph Marlow Blogger 12 years ago
I think you're right, Steve. Real market penetration can only happen once the price drops. As a case in point I've only had my first HDTV for less than 11 months, I could not justify to myself getting a 3Dtv this year. Unless I had a massive pay hike.
However, the 3D tech can revert to standard HD viewing if 3D capabilities are not in place. For example, a 3D blu ray will also play the movie just fine in normal HD. An HDTV will display a normal non 3D picture. It will be more cost effective for the manufacturers to make only one line of TVs due to economiess of bulk. So assuming (a big assuming) they make all TVs 3D capable the worst is that people will have a great telly with a couple of redundant features. Once the price is low enough they'll be as common as HDTVs now, and a standard HDTV will be as hard to find as a CRT telly is now.
By then there will probably be more than one 3DTV channel also. But you're right, it will be a few years. I say 5+.
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Jon Burton Director/Head Designer, Travellers Tales12 years ago
Blu-ray sales currently stand at 14% of market, but big films have higher adoption numbers. For instance, Terminator Salvation blu-ray has outsold DVD and has a 53% market share, with District 9 not far behind at 47%. So I think HD is pretty firmly established. I would be stunned if people are buying TV's that aren't HD ready, and SKY HD already has over a million households subscribe.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Jon Burton on 21st January 2010 1:32pm

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Nick Ferguson Director, ID@Azure, Microsoft12 years ago
Epic revealed last year that over 50% of "Gears of War 2" customers played the game in SD. That game came out over a year ago, but I still found the figure surprisingly high. I'd love to know the equivalent figure for Modern Warfare 2.

I would agree that HD is fairly well established among the core gaming fraternity, but virtually every non-gaming friend or relative I know owns a nice big LCD TV... hooked up to an SD source (Freeview or a non-HD Sky box, DVD player), most likely via a composite connection.
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Michael Vandendriessche Studying Computer Science, K.U. Leuven12 years ago
Personally I don't feel the need for a 3DTV. I have watched Avatar in 3D and, while the movie was good, I wasn't impressed by the 3D technology. I found it rather annoying actually as opposed to give a better experience. I'm not sure if it will really give a better experience for games where more concentration is needed than for most movies. Anyway, 2D isn't going to disappear any time soon so it's good fr those who desire it. I hope this will not result in higher prices for games.
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Brian Faller , Play V Ltd12 years ago
I think the comments above mirror what I have been hearing from everyone - 3D is great in principle, but I do not see the reason to get it at the moment!

As for Sony pinning their hopes on it, that could bite them down the line - they pinned their hopes on HD when the PS3 came out, and HD penetration has not happened anywhere near as quickly as they hoped. Would people skid HD to go straight to 3D? Unlike when a 3D TV will set you back 4 figures, while HD is only just getting down to a price that most people would start to be tempted by.

Also, what programs would benefit from 3D - in the US they are starting to show sporting events in 3D - why?!? to get a good overall view of the game you really need to view it from above, at this angle the 3D really is not that advantage, it only becomes evident when you view it from ground level, but then everyone on the pitch is going to be getting in the way of the action!!!!
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Jim Webb Executive Editor/Community Director, E-mpire Ltd. Co.12 years ago
Too soon.

When you force a technology that the market is not ready to absorb, you kill it (and many times your company along with it). And the market is most definitely not yet ready to absorb another new TV technology. America, for example, is too broke. We've wasted our credit on new homes, cars, and big screen TV's already with no savings to back it up. We can't do another round of TV splurging.
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Yeah jimmy I agree. The house hold market hasn't even got a full grasp of HD yet. So many consumers out there do not have blu-ray for example. It's simply too expensive. The idea of having 3D Gaming does sound absolutely fantastic, but I think it's just a pipe dream at the moment. Plus after watching the movie Avatar like Michael said above, I thought it was amazing, but not amazing enough. The technology isn't here yet to make people actually give a dam about 3D TV.
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Simon Peter12 years ago
What will it change? Will it convince non-gamers and bored core gamers that gaming is more exciting than it used to be? Will it innovate genres?

If not, it can't have a real positive effect on the industry. It will be a treat for the most enthusiastic graphics-lovers, who would buy the Next Big Thing anyways. Another cause why development will be more expensive, and products will be more expensive.

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Simon Peter on 21st January 2010 10:01pm

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Tyler Treat Editor-in-Chief, Brave New Gamer12 years ago
Frankly, I think there's still a lot of people in the process of switching to HDTV's, and the price is still coming down on those. Now those people have to switch to a 3DTV?

Look at it from a cable company's perspective. They just invested a ton of money switching to HD. Now they have someone telling them 3D is "the next big thing."

This has already been mentioned, but I'd like to reiterate: it's too soon. Shoving technology down consumers' throats is not necessarily the right thing to do. It's great for film, if even a little gimmicky, but I'm not convinced it's the next step for gaming, at least not yet. It looks good on paper and maybe in a controlled environment, but does that translate to an enjoyable experience in the living room?
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3D has been out for ages. Avatar is the reason Avatar is popular - not 3D. I think its a big mistake to assume that post-Avatar everyone wants 3D. I think they just want more Avatar.
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Alex Wright-Manning Head of Recruitment, Splash Damage Ltd12 years ago
The reason that the film industry is pushing for 3D is because it can't be pirated.... yet. Also I'm slightly nervous of a technology that requires you to wear special glasses to view it, and yet there doesn't seem to be any medical studies available on the long term effects of stereoscopic technology usage on human eyes. Does anyone remember Steve Martin's The Jerk?

I can certainly see the applications for it in gaming - the 3D aspect of the recent Avatar title certainly added something to the experience - but I do think we're a long way off from it becoming the norm, if at all.

What I am excited about is the possibilty of it's use with technology like MS's Natal. Minority Report style dasboards anyone?

Edited 1 times. Last edit by Alex Wright-Manning on 22nd January 2010 9:59am

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Tom Cooper QA Technician, Codemasters12 years ago
3D stereoscopic gaming has been around for over 10 years, the main reason its taken this long to appear again in the home is the slow development of flatscreens able to show the picture flicker free.

It was usable on CRT screens using nVidia compatible glasses at high refresh rates since 2000 which was when I first tried it (Star Wars Pod racer anyone?) but it faded away with the death of CRT.

Samsung has been releasing 3D compatible screens in the UK for the last 2 years (Ive seen them for under 500 pounds at Richer Sounds) but without any mainstream media use they have not taken off. This is also partly due to the lack of stella picture quality when used with nVidia 3D vision which is the popular solution.

PS3 will be fueled by 3D Blurays launch which can be the catalyst for 3D gaming but stereoscopic 3D gaming on consoles really needs the PS4's horsepower for the AAA titles that cannot run in stereo on PS3.
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