Microsoft Game Studios Vice President Says 3D Gaming "More Like a Science Experiment"

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Microsoft Game Studios Vice President Phil Spencer opened up to CNN on the subject of 3D television technology and videogames. The short version? They're taking a cautious approach because there are several times as many Xbox 360s in homes as there are 3D TVs, they don't have a TV to sell themselves, and the glasses aren't mainstream. Yes, there are already games supporting 3D on Xbox 360 such as Batman: Arkham Asylum, but of that experience Spencer said, "It felt a little more like a science experiment than something that's going to go touch millions of people."

While recent NPD sales reports confirm continued strong sales of the Xbox 360, CNN notes that research firm DisplaySearch anticipates shipments of 3D TVs to come in below industry expectations. Along with acknowledging this general lack of the hardware in homes, Spencer questions whether people will take to the idea of wearing glasses to watch TV. "A bunch of people sitting around the living room wearing $150 glasses -- I'm just not sure that's kind of mainstream today," he said. Of course, he also pointed out that, "As a corporate mandate, I don't need to sell you a new TV... Other companies maybe have that as part of their business model."

Spencer does say that they're not turning a blind eye to 3D. He notes, "Clearly, we're not going to ignore 3D. I think it is something that will play a role in entertainment." And when glasses aren't involved his outlook changes as he likes the idea Nintendo's 3DS, though he hasn't seen it firsthand. Sounds like, at least for the time being, Microsoft is happy to have games like Call of Duty: Black Ops supporting 3D on the Xbox 360, but the company won't be pushing that support as a top priority.

From The Chatty

  • reply
    October 20, 2010 12:30 PM

    I agree. I have a 3D TV that my wife and I bought for the kids to watch animated movies in 3D. I tried some of the games in 3D on the ps3 and they're just... adequate. I also tried nVidia's 3D stuff at Blizzcon 2009 and it was alright. The fact that it doesn't work with mods and half the particle effects killed it for me.

    I'm excited for the future but the costs right now for primarily 3D gaming (in the living room and on PC) just aren't worth it.

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      October 20, 2010 10:35 PM

      Cost argument is true. Then again, I fully expect that each year will bring 3D down into the lower and lower priced TV's. 3D HDTV's are already down well below $2k. Next year, they'll be around $1k (or lower?). Glasses will drop in price as the IR is standardized. Players will drop in price. Having your gaming console and games you already own implementing 3D means you've got content waiting for you, not you waiting for the content (ie., 3D BD's you can buy from a store today?).

      I'm fine with developers putting work into 3D games now while fully supporting 2D TV's with the best resolution they can get. People act like they're losing something by the developer adding 3D code to the game. Killzone 3 goes to a lower resolution for 3D and uses a higher one for 2D. I read the same of Call of Duty: Black Ops.

      I don't mind the idea of games I'll already own being there in 3D the second I buy in. I don't get why anyone would care because if they don't care (and will never care) about 3D, then it doesn't impact their gaming in any way.

      Oddly enough, I don't attack things just because I see no benefit in them FOR ME as long as they don't take away something from me. These games supporting 3D doesn't hurt anyone who doesn't use 3D. The game still looks the same as it would have in 2D for 2D users. It's just one option you won't be able to use. Like when you couldn't use rumble with an old PS controller or when you use the conventional control scheme for Heavy Rain.

      I wonder why Sony is considered biased for wanting 3D to be used (and Blu-ray before it), but Microsoft being eager to see 3D (and Blu-ray along with it) fail to hinder PS3 marketing is not at all biased? MS has as much reason to be biased AGAINST 3D as Sony has to be biased for it. If 3D is successful, it will become the killer app for Blu-ray, the thing that DVD cannot do. The thing that digital downloads will have to sacrifice a lot to make easily downloadable. Microsoft wants you to buy into Xbox Live marketplace as the next big thing in movies and if 3D is a success, then that's going to increase the required bandwidth to get a 720p video over Live, making MS's min requirements that much higher and their audience that much smaller.

      Sony wants 3D to succeed so Blu-ray will have its killer app. MS wants 3D to fail so Blu-ray will continue to war with DVD and give digital marketplaces a chance to kill them both, plus they'd rather the PS3's Blu-ray (and 3D Blu-ray) features be worth as little as possible because the 360 lacks them. Both companies have their biases.

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        October 22, 2010 5:06 AM

        Many people looking for a new mid to high end TV are going to get 3D whether they really want it or not. Right now the best models for 2D are the 3D models. Very few people will run out to buy a new TV for 3D but when the time comes for a new TV people are going to lean towards buying 3D unless they are in the low end market.
        I think part of the reason MS is not promoting 3D is because the 360 is not capable of full resolution 3D. It always has to use the split screen methods as opposed the the PS3 which can use frame packing, and therefor can give you 3D without losing resolution. Right now I don't think any PS3 games run in 3D without a performance drop but the potential is there.