I’m sure all of us have experienced 3D in some shape or form; whether it be in today’s top tier cinema experiences or the old days where red and blue were the way to go. The mainstream switch over to 3D entertainment has been a controversial topic and has many different viewpoints even in its most popular form, movies. There are many different opinions regarding 3D entertainment. A lot of nay-sayers will say 3D is just a “fad”, an option that will blow away like dust in the wind once the heat dies down. On the other hand, innovators and production teams see it as a window for opportunity. With the technology only getting better and the 3D industry growing exponentially every year, could we see 3D being implemented in every form of digital entertainment?
Is the 3D market doing well?
Before anything, let’s talk about 3D dying out. Is it? The answer is absolutely not and it’s pretty apparent it’s growing too. Six of the ten movies to ever go past the $1 billion sales mark are all in 3D. Cameron’s Avatar, Titanic 3D, The Avengers, and Pirates of The Caribbean: On Strangers Tide just to name a few. How about 3D devices? Well, back in 2010, over $55 million worth of 3D TVs and blu-ray equipment were purchased by consumers and only God knows how much that number has grown today. You have the Nintendo 3DS which has sold well over 4.5 million units in its first year and a ton of 3D-capable monitors have sold this year alone at very affordable prices.
It’s a new market, and there’s definitely a target audience for it. With the 3D industry entering the billions in revenue, who wouldn’t want a piece of that pie? Movies have been using 3D for quite some time now, but much like any race, there are already contenders close to the top. As James Cameron is to his 3D movies, the game industry has Sony to thank for not only introducing “proper” 3D, but making it easier to access. So far, only the PS3 has seen a great number of 3D games, or at the very least, 3D games built from the ground up to be, well, 3D. Such examples are MotorStorm Apocalypse, de Blob 2: The Underground and even better from those, Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception.
But that’s just it. The fact that 3D technology is improving and the thought that 3D is where the money is at is what brings a lot of companies to develop a lot of new devices that support the option. With that, the prices go down. And when prices go down, people buy. If it’s affordable why not have it? Back in the day, 3D TVs, albeit poor quality ones, were well over $2000. Now, if I absolutely have to have 3D, I can have it for $500, maybe even less.
Improvements in 3D
So we’ve seen 3D in movies for quite some time. I remember going to see Spy Kids in 3D complete with a cheap pair of red and blue vision glasses. Back then, it was the best thing ever because it was new. Yea, 3D has been around long before that but you know, it was still pretty sweet for a kid. But now, 3D has improved far beyond that, and it was apparent when James Cameron released Avatar because I got a pair of polarized glasses. The movie was gorgeous… visually at least and it improved overall user-experience, if you didn’t get migraines of course. From then on, the best mainstream movies pretty much always have an option for 3D viewing, and that's the option I always go for. Some movies don’t improve, but others just feel so “right” in 3D. Theatres of course have the option for non-3D viewing.
Obviously, some people don’t want to spend the extra money for 3D, but others complain about headaches and what not… that it “strains the eyes.” Well, it definitely can if it’s not done right. However, advances in the tech help remedy this. Mick Hocking, one of 3D’s biggest advocates and Sony’s senior group director for their worldwide 3D team says, “you don’t get eyestrain or headaches if 3D is implemented correctly.” Bad 3D is when the hardware or software doesn’t actually produce the 3D correctly. In other words, the company just got lazy and sort of layered the 3D on top of the already-finished game or movie. Advances in processing power break the limitations of 3D we’ve seen in the 90s and not only allow for comfortable viewing but much better visual results as well.
So if you’ve seen a 3D movie in the past and found it uncomfortable, I suggest you give it one more shot. It may be better the second time around and you may actually enjoy it.
Gaming in 3D
Alright, so I pretty much gave you a rant about all things 3D. Sorry about that, but now let’s move on to what GameGeex is all about… Gaming, no?
So today, publishers, developers, and all producers of 3D will pretty much have the same answer when asked “where will 3D take off?” They’ll all say gaming. And it’s true. Gamers play a huge part in the advancement of 3D because for one thing, it’s somewhat new territory and in reality it’s only fitting because 3D can potentially add more immersion to the game you’re currently playing. But also, let’s face it, it’s almost a trend… Gamers HAVE TO HAVE the latest and greatest toys, if it’s within budget limitations of course. But if you could afford to purchase the “new thang” wouldn’t you do it?
Aside from the consumers themselves, developers and game companies love playing with new toys (they are gamers too, right?). Artists and creative directors want nothing more than to dabble with new technology and figure out ways to utilize it… ahem motion ahem voice commands ahem Nintendo… Anyways, getting a game ready for 3D requires a lot of extra work though, especially if you’re building it from the ground up, but could also be worth it in the end.
I’m going to use Motorstorm: Apocalypse as an example. Why? Because the game is ridiculous. Apocalypse is fun as heck without a doubt, but it plays like a train wreck. It was, however, built from the ground up as a 3D capable game and fortunately, I got to test it out in 3D and my gaming experience was improved ten fold. The added feature made the game absolutely gorgeous and made me feel like I was in a race to the death. I’m not going to rant on and on, but basically, 3D took an “ok” game and pretty much give it life. It added that adrenaline rush the game couldn’t give me on its own.
So for me, 3D is a big plus. Still, it depends on the game you’re playing. I found 3D to be beautiful in 3rd-person RPG games, because the landscape is improved, and you get more depth in the heat of action. I’ve tried Killzone 3 and though the 3D in that is pretty sweet, first-person gameplay doesn’t flow as well. Though it’s cool to have, I find it to be more of an option than something I’d need.
Increasing 3D Market?
Before, it used to be all about getting the 3D. Now it’s about taking that 3D and finding ways to make it better. This concept applies to video games on pretty much every level. 3D is still somewhat controversial, especially in gaming because ultimately gamers want to know what they get out of it. Sure, gamers like new features, but not if the gameplay or graphics aren’t enhanced enough to make a difference. When we talk 3D, it’s all about immersion… How to make the game more immersive.
But in the business world, it’s all about momentum. When 3D was scarce, pretty much only tech-enthusiasts cared. But after several large gaming campaigns and the fact that 3D has become somewhat affordable, more and more companies are starting to pump out 3D capable equipment; from camcorders to TVs. It’s more of a thing where if you were to purchase something and it just so happens to have said feature, which in this case is 3D, you’re more likely to try it out and hopefully like it. Someone who buys Nvidias new GTX 680, just happens to have a 3D monitor by Asus, and plays Crysis 2 everyday -- which has amazing 3D by the way -- will have a good chance of at least try the 3D mode, right? Like any feature or add-on, it truly is about accessibility. If you have the access, why not?
As far as games go, a lot more games are starting to have the option for 3D. I don’t think the 3D market is big enough yet for publishers to risk sinking money into a full 3D blockbuster hit, but pretty soon it will be. Prices are only going down and once a 3D-capable device enters every household, you may see a lot more 3D games built from the ground up on the next-gen consoles and future PC hits. For now, you can just enjoy the option of having the option…
So what is 3D to you?
So what do you guys think? Is 3D really just a fad? Do you hate it? Like it? What’s your take on 3D? Everyone has an opinion and since the 3D market is headed for the gaming industry, what are your thoughts? I personally don’t mind 3D, but I don’t want it forced on me. Having the option there could be really exciting especially in next-gen gaming.
So if 3D became affordable for you… If 3D were to just become just “another feature” already included in your future television purchases, would you be playing some of your games in 3D? Comment below and let us know! Now, if only I got a nickel for every time I mentioned "3D"...