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Is 3D for Video Games a Fad?

/ Jun 18th, 2011 No Comments

There are a ton of reports out there that debunk the hype that surrounds technology-enabling 3D in the home. Despite 3D having a hard time getting into people’s homes, IMAX theaters around the country are doing extremely well drawing crowds. Getting 3D in the home has proven to be a huge obstacle for manufacturers trying to be the first ones adopted by consumers. With ultra-slow adoption rates, despite widespread availability, I’m left to wonder if 3D for video games won’t suffer the same fate.

First off, let’s not kid ourselves about 3D being a great idea for a home theater. It’s a terrible idea that isn’t working and consumers have already spoken about not wanting the technology for general television use. Any industry report says the same thing, that television manufacturers aren’t selling 3D HDTVs because they are overpriced, but more importantly, people don’t like the technology in the home. Why the hate? Well, nobody wants to wear the stupid glasses (which have to be charged up) and sit at specific angles to enjoy something that basically adds zero in terms of pure entertainment experience.

So I’m making the premise that home theater 3D technology has basically failed to this point. It doesn’t add much to the experience, it costs too much, it’s inconvenient and it even makes some people sick to their stomachs (literally). But what about gamers?

I think the gaming industry is the one hope 3D technology groups have in getting this whole concept adopted in any way, shape or form in the home. Gamers love technology and the concept of running around playing Battlefield 3, Modern Warfare 3 or even something like Resident Evil in full 3D actually has a lot of merit. Seeing bullets whiz by you or having a zombie to blow away in front of you sounds like a lot of fun. So for FPS gamers, I think 3D actually does stand a chance. It’s a genre that 3D makes a lot of sense for and if done right would really get to the point where a lot of people would want to check it out for themselves at the very least.

What about other gaming genres, you ask? Well, for sports gamers such as the dedicated Madden Nation folks, I’m not sure it makes a ton of sense. The presentation of those games are already amazing as it is and we’re not talking “real life 3D” but more of a “presentation 3D – guys looks like cut-out 2D people” which really would look weird in the traditional three-quarters view we see out of games like Madden or NHL from EA Sports.

Now up to this point I’ve speculated on 3D gaming for consoles only, but as some of you already know, NVIDIA is starting to push 3D technology and some monitor manufacturers such as Dell (Alienware) and even Sony (with their desktop line) have offerings already. I’ve been able to interface with both, having checked out the NVIDIA stuff at the StarCraft II release party and the Sony products at E3 2011. Both times I came away totally unimpressed with the experience itself. I think the problem with the PC-3D stuff is that there is no showcase title to create a game-changer for the industry. If the bottom line for PC 3D is that the games don’t look any better, then there’s very little incentive to go through the pain for an upgrade to get the technology.

The final word at this point in terms of 3D technology for gamers is that it does have some merit, especially for FPS gamers and even for some 3rd person shooters. I think for those titles, 3D could really lift the gaming experience another level, which makes me think that 3D has a shot. For other genres of games, it would probably be little more than a gimmick that would get old really quick and there’s very little out there to prove it can work for PC gamers who mainly play MMORPGs.

Sean W. Gibson

Sean W. Gibson

Founder, Featured Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Sean Gibson has been the owner and Executive Editor of Gaming Illustrated for over eleven years. His roles include acting as CEO and President of Gaming Illustrated, LLC and also includes being a reviewer, previewer and interviewer. Sean's opinions on this site do not reflect those of his full-time employer.
Sean W. Gibson
Sean W. Gibson


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