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Will 3D save the console?

By on June 16, 2009

Real 3D games were on display at E3, with James Cameron’s Avatar from Ubisoft and Blitz showcasing its 3D technology with Invincible Tiger: The Legend of Han Tao. But will it save the console?

3D is becoming big news. James Cameron has said it will change the face of gaming, because with 3D “you are in the game. This is the ultimate immersive media.” (CNET)

Stronghold Kingdoms teaser image

I was initially sceptical about the benefits of 3D. But a recent visit to Blitz Games Studios has begun to change my mind. I saw an impressive tech demonstration and a game that was fully-functioning: Invincible Tiger: The Legend Of Han Tao, a traditional side-scrolling beat-‘em-up taken to a whole new dimension just by putting on a pair of 3D glasses.

My memories of 3D involved dodgy cardboard goggles with red/green filters and a great white shark’s jawbone jumping out of the cinema screen in Jaws 3D. The new 3D is more immersive, the glasses are less geeky, and it has the potential to change the way we consider gaming forever.

I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to experience 3D to understand its likely impact. Luckily, BAFTA is hosting a 3D event on Wednesday so you can see 3D for yourself, details below.

The technology works by running two different views on the console: one for each eye. The glasses synchronise with the television to “flicker” between your eyes, which enables the brain to interpret the scene in 3D. It therefore requires double the frame-rate of a traditional game, since the scene has to be rendered differently for each eye. Blitz showed 3D running at 120 frames per second (I think) on an Xbox 360. The company estimates that there were 1.4 million 3D-enabled TVs in the market at the end of 2008, mostly in the US, but they say that the major TV manufacturers are very excited about rolling out 3D to the mass market.

I have long argued that the console is in terminal decline, and that in the future, the majority of gaming will be consumed via the web, whether that is cloud-computing like OnLive and GDI (less likely in my opinion) or through the browser (much more likely). But if 3D catches on, it may give a new lease of life to consoles, taking gaming immersion to a level previously only imaginable in science fiction.


3D – The Next Dimension in TV and Games?

David Lean Room, BAFTA, 195 Piccadilly, London W1J 9LN

2009’s box office is full of 3D films – but what about television? Sky, ITV, the BBC and others have been making forays into full 3D broadcast tests, and Sky has confirmed its aim to broadcast the 2012 Olympics in 3D – to say nothing of what it’s going to do for the video games. In this evening event there will be demonstrations from broadcasters and games companies, plus a panel discussion on where this technology is taking the audience, and what the implications for producers and broadcasters will be. The demonstrations and discussion will feature:

  • Andrew Oliver, CTO and Founder, Blitz Games Studios
  • Colin Smith, Technical Analyst, ITV
  • Brian Lenz, Product Design and Innovation, Sky TV
  • Benjamin Berraondo, PR Manager, UK and Northern Europe, NVidia

Pricing Information
Public | £7.50 (includes one complimentary drink)
BAFTA Members | Free

Visit BAFTA’s website to book tickets.

About Nicholas Lovell

Nicholas is the founder of Gamesbrief, a blog dedicated to the business of games. It aims to be informative, authoritative and above all helpful to developers grappling with business strategy. He is the author of a growing list of books about making money in the games industry and other digital media, including How to Publish a Game and Design Rules for Free-to-Play Games, and Penguin-published title The Curve: