EA recently cited their displeasure at the "very poor returns" and slow uptake of 3D gaming (which is odd considering that they haven't actually published many 3D-enabled titles), but Sony is taking a more pragmatic approach to the emergent technology. Apparently it costs next to nothing to add three-dimensional functionality to a title, and that their first party developers are actually the driving force behind it. So long as a market exists, they'll continue to offer it. We have the full story and quotes below.
Speaking to GamesIndustry.biz, SCEE Senior Manager Simon Benson suggests that there's a lot of forum "activity" and buzz surrounding 3D gaming, and that it's a market that they'll continue to support. When asked about whether they're concerned about the relatively slow uptake, Benson was quick to suggest that they couldn't really care less. Naturally the HDTV comparison was trotted out again - and I'll let you decide whether or not it's a relevant one.
It’s certainly not a concern for us on the game side, the major reason being it’s not like when we’re adding 3D features to a game, it’s not a significant overhead for us. It’s not like we have to justify being able to sell millions millions more games because of it, it’s just another feature of the game.
In terms of uptake, certainly from our side, and it’s typically the way, probably the same happened with HDTVs, they say that HDTV was primarily driven from gamers. Because obviously gamers know what they want, they want this new experience, they’re technically savvy, the fact that they can interact with it makes a lot of difference.
After touching on the fact that 3D is inexpensive to implement, Benson continued to suggest that the decision is typically taken in-house rather than forced on developers from a corporate level, and that it takes almost no time and resources to achieve. Which means, frankly, that there's no reason why they shouldn't.
Certainly from my experience what I could say is the developers that we’ve worked with adding 3D features to the games, it’s typically been done through passion of the development teams and interest of the designers to deliver new experiences. It’s not often about the financial side of things. Because it isn’t a huge overhead. It’s not like in 3D live production where someone has got to make the decision about hiring cameras that cost twice as much and doing post processing that costs ten times more and it’s a significant overhead, there you really have to look at the numbers.
What we’re talking about here is, in some cases we’ve had titles where 3D has been half a per cent of overhead. It can literally be the render programmer spending a couple of weeks manipulating it.
Sony still has a lot to prove in terms of demonstrating that 3D tech is relevant for mainstream gaming, but as with most new technologies, we're willing to wait and see. With many TV manufacturers and television providers such as Sky and the BBC getting involved, it may just be a matter of time. Let us know what you think in the comments!