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Sony explains 720p cap on 3D games

UPDATED: PS3 games already in 1080p will be downscaled for stereoscopic play

Sony's official guidelines state that developers may not create 1080p versions of their 3D PlayStation 3 games, due to frame-rate limitations.

The confirmation was made by Simon Benson, senior development manager of Worldwide Studios' stereoscopic team, at the Develop conference last week.

According to Joystiq, Benson claimed the higher resolution made it harder to maintain 60 frames per second, and that any games already running at 1080p would be downscaled to 720p.

While, following a firmware update due later this year, the console will be able to play 3D Blu-Ray discs at 1080p, stereoscopic content at the higher resolution is limited to 24 frames per second, the frame-rate of film projectors.

Digital Foundry has clarified to GamesIndustry.biz that this is a necessary requirement of the HDMI connection, not of the PlayStation 3 particularly.

"It's simply the case that the new stereo 3D support built into the HDMI 1.4 spec is specifically designed for Blu-Ray movie playback at a movie standard of 24 frames per second, making the full HD mode a poor fit for gaming. In a world where games are created to run either at 30 or 60 frames per second, dropping down to 24FPS means a jerkier image and a more muted response from the controls.

"There's certainly no lack of support from the PS3 itself either, as even in the current 3.40 firmware - which doesn't support Blu-Ray 3D movies - the mode is clearly recognised and available for use by the console."

While Benson said Sony currently strictly limits all 3D game output to 720p - with previously 1080p title Super Stardust HD being downscaled for its stereoscopic remake - it was possible that a slower-paced, "more cinematic game" would allow some relaxation of the rule.

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Alec Meer

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A 10-year veteran of scribbling about video games, Alec primarily writes for Rock, Paper, Shotgun, but given any opportunity he will escape his keyboard and mouse ghetto to write about any and all formats.

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