Is Microsoft Ready To Embrace 3D?

Stereoscopic 3D has been popping up in our televisions, blu-rays and video games at a semi-rapid pace over the past year or so. Despite an increasing number of companies supporting the technology, Microsoft has been very lukewarm on the idea of 3D gaming. Their ‘wait and see’ approach is likely the best angle from a business perspective, especially considering how few people actually have access to it, but it seems like the tides are about to change in the Xbox camp.

Not a word was spoken from Microsoft when Call of Duty: Black Ops hit the Xbox 360 with 3D support. The Enslaved expansion, ‘Pigsy’s Perfect 10’ that also utilized 3D technology on the 360 received similar acknowledgment. To be fair, Microsoft has never said that they have no plans to use 3D in gaming and if memory serves they even announced an Xbox 360/LG 3D TV bundle a while back. But aside from that, they’ve done nothing to promote the products on their console that feature it.

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I question if the winds are changing direction because of Major Nelson’s most recent blog post about some of the pre-GDC announcements that were just made. 3D was right in the mix for a couple of different products, starting with Crysis 2. Major Nelson made a point to say that Crysis 2 looks fantastic in either HD or 3D. Further down the post, he also pointed out that ‘The Dishwasher: Vampire Smile’ (an Xbox 360 exclusive) will also support 3D. Not only that, but he emboldened the section of the post that mentioned 3D.

Finally, when announcing that Fable III would be heading to the PC, he also emphasized the 3D support for that title as well. Granted, he mentioned nothing of 3D support for Fable III on the 360 but it’s still a game that’s being developed by a Microsoft-owned studio.

There’s a distinct probability that I’m just reading too much in to these posts. I find it highly unlikely that we’re about see every Xbox 360 exclusive support 3D but the mere fact that they’re acknowledging the technology that so many other hardware manufacturers and game developers have gotten behind, says something. If nothing else, they may just be putting themselves in the best position to succeed regardless of how well the third dimension is doing at retail. Either way, it will be interesting to see how they handle things going forward and what other products they produce that employ it.

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27 Comments

  1. I guess it’s somewhat of a smart position to be in, except that if 3D really does take off in a big way then Sony are going to have a much larger and varied choice of existing 3D games on PSN or at retail. I can see the risks for both Microsoft and Sony If 3D fails or not, only time will tell…

  2. “considering how few people actually have access to it”
    :D That was one of the reasons I bought a 3D TV, so I could sit back and look smug when these comments arise ;). Obviously not one of the ‘main’ reasons I bought my stunning 50″ 3DTV, but still..

    Not too sure about the ‘being late to the 3D party – a good thing for Microsoft ‘ idea. Sony have been in the 3D market for a while now, and no doubt gained a lot of experience with 3D, and so will be able to bring out better, improved products.

    • Sony also make 3D TV’s were as Microsoft don’t. This means Microsoft have no inclination about the sales of 3D TV’s and whether it would be a worth while investment until now.

      Congrats on the 50″ 3DTV lucky SOB!

      • Microsoft have every inclination about sales of 3DTV. It’s probably incredibly easy data to come by for business research. Hell, a bit of time online as a consumer will reveal quite a bit.

        Thing is, they’re biding their time and they’re right to do so. 3D is still nowhere near being accepted by the consumer and it’s struggling to maintain momentum.

      • Struggling to maintain momentum? Do you have any kind of source for that claim?

        I think 3D is absolutely accepted by the consumer, it’s just that the HDTV uptake has been so high that most are finding it hard to justify yet another TV upgrade so soon after a previous one. For most people looking to buy a high end HDTV, it makes almost no sense to NOT buy one with 3D these days given the relatively low cost overhead.

        I recently bought a Samsung 63″ 3D Plasma for less than it cost me to buy my Sony 40″ HDTV only 3 years ago.

        It certainly can’t hurt Sony to get into 3D on the ground floor – a smaller games library was one of the things that hurt the PS3 in the early days, and Microsoft might find the same happening to them if they don’t get onboard the 3D train soon. Sony already have the entire 3D Blu-ray library to bolster their numbers, something Microsoft can’t leverage off, and now Sony are started to build quite a collection of 3D games too.

        BTW, Killzone 3 in 3D on a 63″ Plasma is completely worth it :)

  3. Speaking of 3D, did you guys see Sony’s prototype Ray Modeller?

    http://blog.discover.sonystyle.com/360-degree-3d-prototype-takes-gaming-to-new-levels

    I’m not particularly interested in 3D screens, but this thing could lead to all kinds of awesome.

    • looks interesting!
      i’ll be one of those guys that will only get a 3D TV when all TVs have it by default; i just can’t stomach glasses+bright colours+moving camera :P

    • Lol you aren’t likely to hear sony say ‘360’ and ‘takes gaming to new levels’ many more times!

  4. 3D dancing games great :|

    • Isn’t that called a nightclub !

      • wow 3D is almost like real life

      • For my 3D movie fix I like to go to the Theater.

  5. Maybe he just bought a 3D t.v?

  6. Only time will tell but Sony seem to know what they are doing. Whether it be an immediate hit or a slow burner everything they touch seems to turn to gold,I think 3D tv will take off, even it becomes niche! MS have really backed themselves into a corner over the past few years with all of the things such as Blu-Ray and 3D that they said didn’t matter and didn’t care about. I’m very interested to see which direction they take for the Xbox 720 if they do indeed believe that.

    • As previously said above, Sony make TV’s so they have a vested interest in 3D apart from gaming. Also, with blu-ray Sony receive licencing fees for each blu-ray player sold. So their blu-ray and 3D interests are also outside of the gaming space. Blu-ray is slowly gaining acceptance but DVD is still strong, and, 3D is only a minor niche product at present. I think that Microsoft are doing the right thing, cautiously moving into 3D whilst acceptance of it is still quite low. The next gen consoles are a different story, 3D may be common by then. And with blu-ray, I think this has pretty much been a non-issue for the current generation of HD consoles. Not many Xbox 360 games come on multiple discs, and if they do, the provision of big hard drives means that the games can be installed into the hard drive therefore not requiring multiple disc changes. It will be interesting however to see what Microsoft do for the next gen console. Whether they utilise blu-ray or some other disc media to accomodate the increased data requirements.

      • sorry but multiple discs will always require disc changes (because of the way they program the games for piracy issues) doesn’t matter how big the HDD is or how many discs the game comes on, you will always have to change the discs over, to show that you still own them.

      • Forza 3. A game disc and a content installation disc. Solved.

  7. Nope—they rather collect money from XBL members, rather than invest their money on (3D) technologies.

  8. No point in them doing so, since pretty much no fat 12 year old brats have 3DTVs ;)

  9. They got stung with HD-DVD, so they simply waited to see which 3D format won out.
    Now they can ease in slowly, whilst the majority of the customer base is still without a 3DTV.
    A simple plan which makes perfect sense.

    • “They got stung with HD-DVD, so they simply waited to see which 3D format won out.”
      There are no warring 3D formats, not like HD-DVD and Blu-Ray.
      You have 2 TV choices, active or passive, and thats it. But both play the exact same movie or game, it just viewed differently, but the 3D effect is just the same.

      I personally would like to see Microsoft get active in the 3D gaming market, it might push Sony to push developers to patch some older games and make more titles available in 3D.
      While the games that do work work very well, there is still a shortage of consumable material.

      The list of games and movies is getting longer, but it’s slow going.

  10. I personally think 3d is a gimmick waiting to be milked dry. I think Sony can afford to take a risk with 3d as they sell 3d tvs so that could help them recover there losses. MS are being very smart by waiting it out as i’m sure they don’t want a repeat of the HD-DVD incident. Also i don’t want to have to wear glasses just to play a game.

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