Trials and tribulations of 3D gaming


CHIBA: The Tokyo Game Show will have a lot of people wearing dark glasses this year, with the buzz turning 3D at the annual event that brings together the latest offerings from game-console and software makers.

But despite the fanfare and razzle-dazzle footage, people checking out 3D games for the PlayStation3 at Sony Corp’s sprawling booth were warned to take the special glasses off immediately should they feel sick or giddy.

And Nintendo Co, also hoping for a boost from 3D technology with its planned 3DS handheld that’s set to go on sale before April, was conspicuously absent.

The event previewed to reporters and guests on Thursday ahead of its opening to the public this weekend, is expected to draw more than 180,000 people.

Kyoto-based Nintendo, the manufacturer of the Wii console and Super Mario games, is skipping the show and planning a separate Sept 29 event, also at Makuhari Messe hall in this Tokyo suburb, where the 3DS is expected to take centerstage.

“It’s like the elephant in the room,” said gaming expert Mark MacDonald, executive director at Tokyo-based 8-4 Ltd, which brings Japanese games to the United States.

MacDonald said visitors like him were watching for what he called “peripherals” for machines already on sale such as the Move motion-controller from Sony and Kinect from Microsoft Corp, billed as controller-free because it detects a player’s movements.

The show’s focus was obviously on 3D but the full potential of 3D for games has yet to be explored, he told The Associated Press.

“It’s a young technology in terms of games. People don’t know yet how much is too much,” MacDonald said. “You might start feeling sick, or you just want to see the game and feel I can’t see what’s going on.”

Some of the 3D games shown at the event, such as a clip of the planned Metal Gear Solid, were as impressive as 3D movies in providing visceral computer graphics and illusion of depth. But others, such as 3D versions of racing games, looked disappointingly similar to their 2D predecessors.

The reason more time is needed for 3D gaming to take off for home consoles is that it requires a 3D TV set, which cost about US$2,000 (RM6,400) or more.

Software makers are waiting for sales of the TVs to increase before investing in developing 3D games, says Yusuke Tsunoda, analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co in Tokyo.

“It still remains to be seen whether 3D gaming is going to provide a genuinely new experience,” he said. “But it is a big opportunity like a gift that’s dropped from the sky.”

Jay Defibaugh, analyst with MF Global FXA Securities, believes 3D gaming is the perfect way for Sony to differentiate itself from Microsoft, which does not offer 3D, as well as from Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea, which makes 3D TVs but doesn’t have movies or games businesses.

Pushing 3D gaming may in the long run boost Sony’s movies and music businesses, as well as its TV and Blu-ray recorder operations, he said.

“Obviously, Sony as a whole looks at 3D very strategically,” Defibaugh said. — AP

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