OPINION: 3D is a big ask

The rush to embrace 3D gaming as a way to reinvigorate the high-grade end of the gaming spectrum
is certainly exciting.

From the demos I have seen, it really can make triple-A content more compelling. And with many leaders in games psyched up for it, the industry can make a big splash with it at E3. It’s a far cry from the situation a year ago, which just left games like Avatar or early PS3 efforts to kick-start 3D’s place in games.

But don’t be surprised if many air their reservations before E3 even begins.

3D is a big ask of people. And I don’t just mean the obvious concern that people don’t want to wear stereoscopic glasses all the time.

While there isn’t that much of a huge impact on the bottom line when it comes to turning ‘normal’ games into 3D ones, the burden of cost falls heavily on consumers when it comes to playing them. These games need new vision hardware to run. And who in this climate, after having bought into the HD hype, is willing to buy a new 3D set?

I’m sure Screen Digest’s numbers aren’t that far off and that in five years millions of 3D TVs will be sold. But that’s still five years the industry will have to wait for the 3D promise to be fulfilled. In the meantime, 3D gaming might just remain the preserve of only the hardcore gamers willing to splash the cash.

But perhaps Nintendo’s efforts at the lower end of the 3D games spectrum is the real key to unlocking stereoscopic games as a hot property.

If played right by Nintendo, new handheld 3DS won’t just have a handy effect of rescuing the slumping DS market by introducing new hardware (hopefully with better anti-piracy elements) that consumers must upgrade to.

Assuming its 3D elements are impressive enough, the 3DS can help spur consumer demand for these visually deeper games in the home, too. Nintendo’s now guaranteed mass-market reach means it has a bigger audience to make an impression on. As the 3DS includes the three-dimensional screen as standard, it could smooth out the mental leap many will need to make in justifying an upgrade for their screens at home.

Of course, there are a lot of ifs there. It’s tricky to make bold predictions about devices few have seen yet without sounding like an idiot. And Nintendo is closely guarding its next handheld until E3.

But broadly we can always expect Nintendo hardware to be economic in both design and price, and revolutionary in its impact.

All of which sets the 3DS up as being the real driving force behind any switch to 3D gaming.

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