After years of trying to push 3D gaming onto PlayStation 3 users, Sony (SNE) is finally waking up and realizing nobody really cared or wanted the added depth. Speaking with Eurogamer, Sony’s UK vice president and marketing director Fergal Gara said that “it’s fair to say consumers have decided it’s not hugely important at this time. It’s a capability we’ve got. It may have a bigger life a little further down the line.” Gara blamed 3D’s failure to explode in the living room on two factors: wearing 3D glasses is a hassle and watching 3D at home is not a focused viewing experience as it is in a theater because of all the distractions from other devices such as tablets.
“Whether you look at movies or games, wearing the glasses and consuming 3D in that way in the home isn’t hugely popular. That’s just a fact. I haven’t read detailed research on it, but the glasses will certainly be a big part of the hassle factor. I also think there’s a bit of a difference between the highly focused viewing and the more casual viewing. In the home people tune in and tune out a bit, and doing that with glasses on and glancing at your tablet or pausing for a bit, compared to the cinema experience which is a solely focused experience, you know there is a difference emerging there.”
Gara didn’t mention it, but one of top reasons why 3D just hasn’t been a hit with gamers beyond the obvious need for 3D eyewear is that visually, games actually look worse in 3D. When games are put in 3D mode, two things happen: the resolution is halved and the frame rate drops. In plain speak, what that means is in-game objects made of polygons that are usually heavy on the anti-aliasing (for smoothing pixels out) look jaggy and rough on the edges and games that have lots of on-screen effects such as explosions or enemies start slowing down with lag. Another reason is simple: 3D TVs are still expensive.
As Gara says, Sony’s decision to de-emphasize on 3D is great because it allows the company to focus on what matters in gaming: new IPs and games instead of gimmicky add-ons. We couldn’t agree more.