3D TV is seen by many as another technological gimmick that’ll soon pass. But then they said the same about HD didn’t they? What made the difference? Gaming – and it’ll prove decisive once again.
In 1995, Nintendo released the Virtual Boy, its first 3D handheld console. Following on from its massively popular Gameboy, it looked like Nintendo could do no wrong.
But the Virtual Boy proved a massive flop and was withdrawn from the market within 6 months. It didn’t even reach European shores.
15 years on and I find myself attending a press event for Nintendo’s latest handheld – the 3DS. The buzz from the assembled journalists was palpable, with a genuine sense of excitement at getting their hands on with the new 3D device.
So, will the 3DS succeed where the Virtual Boy failed? I’d put money on it.
The timing’s right for the 3DS
This is the year of 3D, with compatible TVs and Blu-ray players coming from all major manufacturers, and the film industry continues with its apparent aim to release everything in 3D.
Sony’s PlayStation 3 has received a firmware update for 3D gaming, and two of its most anticipated titles will be 3D enabled (Gran Turismo 5 and Killzone 3). There’s also another update planned for the playback of 3D Blu-rays.
That’s almost 40 million 3D players in people’s homes worldwide and it’s a great benefit for existing PS3 owners, even if they’ll need to buy a new pricey 3D TV and some of those clunky glasses.
Throw away those glasses
Ah, the glasses. Ask anyone about the drawbacks of 3D and they’ll inevitably mention the glasses, possibly rolling their eyes and grimacing as they do so. In our 3D lab test, the panel commented that the glasses were heavy and uncomfortable – they can certainly be a barrier to the immersive experience 3D is meant to be.
Here’s where Nintendo has cracked it. The 3D doesn’t use glasses. All the work is done by its parallax screen, allowing you to get on with jumping over pipes and stomping on Goombas, uninhibited. The tech works, it looks great, and it really does add to the gaming experience.
Gaming is 3D TV’s saviour
There’s been a lot of talk about 3D, including here on this site. My colleague Mike told you that he thought 3D would prove a failure. Well, sorry Mike, but I’m going to have to disagree with you on this one.
It might not happen overnight, but 3D will take off, and the gaming community will play the biggest part.
The 3DS will mark the first mainstream 3D gaming device, and consumers will demand similar experiences on their home consoles. With video games outselling movies in the UK last year, the success of 3D will be decided by the gamepad, not the TV remote.