Sony want you to love 3D. So do Nintendo and Rupert Murdoch.
More importantly, they want you to love 3D enough to buy it. They want you, the same people who collectively earned $2,729,711,510 for James Cameron’s rather large back pockets, to spend $2,000 on a new TV, subscribe to new services and buy new hardware. They also want you to sit in your house with a pair of not-exactly-flattering glasses propped upon your nose in the same way you do at the cinema. Even for simple tasks such as watching a movie or playing a game. Not always in the dark either, so this time people will see you sat there looking silly.
Although still in its relative infancy however, 3D technology is already commanding much attention. Given the box office shattering success of Avatar, it’s probably not hard to see why. But what do you think? Are you sceptical of the long term future for 3D? Have you even experienced it yet? Will you become an early adopter, or wait for the technology to prove itself beyond the confines of the big screen first?
Following on from an E3 in which 3D commanded probably the most attention behind new motion controls, this seems as good a time as any to gauge initial interest in the technology. The Nintendo 3DS is real (and looks a lot like a regular DS) and although there are only 4 titles available for Playstation 3 with full 3D support, Killzone 3 heads up a list of future releases that will support the technology out of the box. Away from gaming, 3DTV’s are starting to hit stores and Sky Sports are extending their reach of 3D football coverage to more and more pubs and clubs across the UK.
Despite all this apparent interest in the technology however, I remain sceptical about just how necessary it all is. In terms of my demographic, I tick many boxes in the early adopter category. I’m a young technology enthusiast and a keen gamer with a decent (ish) job, and although I’m not single, my fiancee is pretty understanding when it comes to my technology needs and wants. Perhaps most importantly, I’m also impatient. I’m the sort of person who buys an iPad on launch blindly hoping that it fits into my life rather than me requiring it for a specific need. I’m also the sort of person who queues up for a new console launch and has few qualms about replacing a system when a new version is released later. At a rough estimate, 9 out of 10 video games I buy are bought on their launch. For a company like Sony, I am the sort of person – a regular consumer with a little more gadget awareness than your “average joe” – to whom 3D should appeal.
At the moment though, there’s just something missing. Personally speaking, at least.
In my opinion, it almost feels like a new technology is being asked to run before the existing one can walk. High Definiton is, in relative terms at least, still young and wide eyed. Many homes are still yet to invest in a HD set, while many of those who do will be comprised of regular consumers who have waited for the price to drop to a reasonable level before investing. At least here in the UK, High Definition TV is still far from the standard broadcast choice, with only a small smattering of channels being supported by companies such as Sky and Virgin. We still live in an age where neither the Xbox 360 nor the PS3, the leading lights of HD home entertainment, come bundled with a HDMI cable as standard. The Wii has no support for it all. I wonder if we’ll be asked to buy our own 3D specs separate in the same way?
As the aforementioned tech enthusiast and potential easy target for a new product launch, I’m also reluctant to ditch my current HDTV so soon after buying it. I’ve owned a HDTV for 3 years, putting me in neither the early adopter nor Johnny-come-lately camps in this particular scenario, but to me the idea of replacing it so soon is preposterous. 3 years falls well below my idea of a sufficient life cycle when buying a new TV. So what of your average consumer? The men and women out there who have waited for HDTV’s to fall below £500 before investing? How many of these are going to simply up and leave their HD sets after 1, 2 or maybe 3 years, in favour of a new, unproven and currently incredibly expensive format?
The introduction of new technology is always going to be a relatively slow process, and there will always be a natural flow to its uptake; starting with the early adopters (or beta testers, if you like) and wealthy, ending with mainstream access to your average consumer. I do however fear that the likes of Sony and Murdoch may be too keen to force this technology onto a consumer base that doesn’t necessarily need it. Nintendo may be exempt from this, as their vision of 3D is entirely self contained within the 3DS unit itself, but Sony in particular and their desire to put so much emphasis on 3D gaming could run into problems with the user base currently being so small. Personally speaking, as both a gamer and as a technology enthusiast, I estimate that 3D in the comfort of my own living room could be around 3 or 4 years from being relevant on a day to day basis. To that end, 20 minute presentations on how great Killzone 3 looks in 3D here in June 2010, are of complete irrelevance.
These are of course little more than my own thoughts and ideas, bouncing around the vast cavernous space between my ears like a ping pong ball. Feel free to leave your own below in the comments section.
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