"Hocking discussed everything from how his company aims to bring 3D TVs into consumers' living rooms," The cheapest they have in the Sony store is £1,999. I do not know about you, but at that price they will not be bringing one into my living room anytime soon.
Gamescom 2010: SCEE senior director Mick Hocking explains why the market will get over the glasses and embrace the third dimension on the PS3.
COLOGNE, Germany--This year started with James Cameron's 3D blockbuster Avatar crushing box-office records and setting off a 3D craze in the film industry. The gameworld has also hopped on the 3D bandwagon, with Nintendo unveiling its innovative three-dimensional portable, the 3DS, at June's Electronic Entertainment Expo.
Sony's own 3D efforts have been substantial this year as well. The company released a line of 3D-enabled televisions, and in June unleashed a firmware update that allows all PlayStation 3s to play select games in 3D. And looking forward, PS3-exclusives Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5 will feature 3D support, allowing anyone with a special TV access to the stereoscopic gaming view.
GameSpot caught up with the Sony executive in Germany at Gamescom 2010 to talk about the company's recently launched line of 3D-enabled televisions and 3D gaming efforts. Hocking discussed everything from how his company aims to bring 3D TVs into consumers' living rooms, to why they should be there, to how gamers are going to pave the way.
GameSpot: How do you view the market currently considering that a lot of people have just invested in an HDTV within the past couple of years?
Mick Hocking: I think that's a good point. From our point of view at PlayStation, we think games are probably going to be the killer content for 3D, one of the big market drivers. I think this year is year zero for 3D in the home. We've launched the TVs this year, all the PlayStations out there are currently upgraded to support 3D gaming, so that's potentially 36 million PlayStations out there that can play 3D games. But of course we need people to go purchase 3D TVs. So our job at the moment--as is the job of the sports broadcaster, the film industry, and other industries--is to get people to purchase 3D TVs.
It is a challenge because people have been buying HDTVs the past five years, so it's really crucial that we can deliver experiences which are good enough and compelling enough to make people make that purchase decision and upgrade to a 3D television. And I think what's encouraging is it's not just the games industry that's pushing it. Obviously we have 3D Blu-ray movies coming, and a lot of them in production, so the next few years you're going to see an awful lot of 3D movie content as well as a lot of great 3D games. We have more than 20 3D titles coming out in the next 12 months, and you'll see that [figure] grow rapidly. But also I think there are other drivers.
Sports is going to be a big factor. Companies like Sky are now really getting to grips with how to deliver 3D sports content, and that's going to be huge. Once people see sports well in 3D, that'll be a big driver for purchase decisions. And I think in addition to that there's also personal content. You're going to be buying a 3D camera, the next time you buy a digital camera. Camcorders are coming out, so you'll be taking movies of your family in 3D, and you'll want to view all this content at some point on a TV. So I think we're going to see it grow and grow and grow over the next few years.
GS: Is it fair to say Sony's current involvement in 3D is sort of an investment in the technology? So that when the TVs do become more common you guys have a vast track record to draw from in terms of game development?
MH: Yeah. I think one thing that's unique about Sony is that we're the only company in the world that has the entire hardware and software chain for 3D within our core business. We are making a big investment into [3D] and we do believe 3D is going to be very popular and will be a growing technology. But it also means that with our 3D games team that we have in the UK, we look after all of the 3D worldwide. But we talk to the guys in Sony Pictures a lot about the latest techniques, the latest technical solutions, in 3D. We talk to the guys in cybershop, we talk to the broadcast areas of the company, and because we're doing that we can pool our knowledge and experience and make sure the content that we produce is at the highest possible quality.
We're driving the message very hard to produce high-quality 3D content. It's not just adding depth to what you're seeing. It's a new creative medium, it needs to be understood, it needs to be worked with to get the very best from it, and I think Avatar so far in the movies has shown that if you do great quality content, people will love it and they will come back for more. And we're doing the same with games; that's our angle at the moment.
GS: What does adding 3D to a game mean in terms of added cost? Is an independent developer working on a PlayStation Network downloadable game going to be able to develop in 3D anytime soon?
MH: Yeah. I think Super Stardust HD was a good example of that. Small team, really talented guys. But they put their game to 3D, one of the first teams that we worked with and they have produced a stunning effect. Super Stardust looked incredibly good in 3D. I think retrofitting 3D is harder than building from the start as you'd imagine. Because you've already made decisions about a game and then you're trying to do something different with it. In terms of getting the 3D element into the game, if you build that in from the early stages of the game it's not that difficult, it's not that significant in terms of cost for the dev team.
There are other areas for 3D which need to be taken into account. You need to test games for 3D. So you need to train up your QA team to look for problems that appear in 3D. If you go into market and your game is 3D, your marketing services need to produce 3D content. So there are things around 3D game development that need to be looked at. So far, even some of the big complex games have proven not that difficult to get 3D working within them.
GS: Do you advise against adding 3D late in development, as opposed to making it a part of the game from the start?
MH: We wouldn't advise against. In terms of optimization, and perhaps changes to the scene, it's easier to make those decisions earlier on. But you can do it, you can add 3D pretty much at any point. It's just the amount of rework you might have to go and do. So we would advise teams to consider 3D early on. And also with every team we work with, once we sort of educated them about the basics of 3D, and the benefits of 3D, we ask them to consider how it can enhance their game.
There's no point in adding 3D to a game if it doesn't do anything. It needs to produce a new effect, or a new immersion or something. So it's really down to the developer to consider what 3D is going to do for their game. And I think we have 20 titles already but obviously some studios who are very late on the development and have got very packed schedules may make the decision to not add [3D] right now, but you may find the next game they make will have [3D] in it.
GS: How does 3D affect the system resources of the PS3? Can a game be reasonably expected to run in 3D at 1080p as well as offer Move support?
MH: The highest resolution we do, with games, is 720p. We do 1080p at 24Hz with movies. Essentially the cost of 3D is like doing two-player split-screen. All you're doing with 3D is rendering two scenes: one for the left eye and one for the right eye. So, beyond that, there's some creative stuff you need to do with the game. But that's really the cost of it. It's not a cost that developers haven't experienced before. That's purely an optimization: can you do two scenes? If you can't, you need to be able to optimize the game to be able to do that. But above that it doesn't really hit the system anymore.
GS: In terms of your personal experience, does 3D suit one particular visual style or game genre better than the others?
MH: No, we've converted quite a lot of games to 3D from different genres and we've found it enhances just about all of them. You can imagine a game that's being designed to be 2D may not lend itself to 3D, but certainly racing games, sports games, benefit a great deal from the addition of 3D. Action games and first-person shooters look great in 3D. Pretty much everything we've tried so far looks better in 3D. How it affects games is different in the particular genres, you get different benefits. But I think visually they're all enhanced and most get enhanced gameplay from the addition of 3D.
GS: Can you go into detail about specific gameplay benefits in certain genres?
MH: In something like sports games…timing and judgment in sports games is really what it's all about, and having that finesse of control. So the first thing that 3D does, in any game, is provide you more information in the scene. Your eyes are seeing twice the number of pixels and of course you've got depth which your brain is processing for free. So in a game like MLB we've found it's much easier to judge when to swing the bat and hit the ball in 3D than it was in 2D. Because you're viewing it in the way you're normally used to viewing the world. You can see the ball approach, you can judge its speed, you can judge the timing of [the swing] that much more intuitively.
And I think a similar thing is true for racing games. It's not a coincidence that most of the world's top drivers are now trained on 3D simulators. We've found in racing games--both arcade games and games like [Gran Turismo] simulators--you can judge the speed of your car, you can judge the braking distance to a corner that much better, you can judge your proximity to the car so that an overtaking maneuver feels that much more natural. You have more information to use and you can be a little bit more accurate about how you do it. All that tends to add up to produce a better lap time.
[It also helps] positioning things in games. So in something like Tumble, where you've got the Move controller, you're picking an object up and you're using the Move controller very accurately to go and place a block onto the stack. Typically, when we used to do that purely in 2D, we'd put a light source above so it would shine a shadow down, and as the shadow went across the stack of blocks you'd go "right, right, that's the right time to drop the block." But in 3D you can see exactly where the block is and it's completely intuitive so we don't need to do those sorts of tricks anymore. We can put the camera anywhere. So I think it enhances lots of games in different ways.
GS: On the flip side, are there any 3D elements to a game, where at the beginning of development it seemed like a great idea but in actuality it didn't work quite as well as the developer was expecting?
MH: We've not had any examples to date. We haven't seen any examples where 3D was added to a game and it made it worse. You have to understand the language of a 3D scene. It's different from the way a 2D scene works.
You interpret a 3D scene differently. So tricks that we used to do with racing games to make the car feel like it's going faster as you accelerated in 2D, we use slightly different techniques now in 3D because you get a sense of speed from the depth being there. We may choose a different type of camera, or we might position the car closer to the screen rather than pushing it away from the scene as you accelerate. But we've not found any areas where it's worse.
GS: Is it only Sony's first-party developers that you work with, or do you also work with third-party studios?
MH: The worldwide studios 3D team that I look after primarily works with first parties, but we also go through our third-party support. We've trained all those teams up and we directly work with some of the publishers of third-parties as well. But most of that, as you'd expect, comes from the third-party interface.
GS: In terms of glasses-free television sets, how far away are we from that technology? Years? Decades?
MH: I'd love to be able to give you an answer [laughs]. Currently, the best way of producing high-definition 3D on a TV is using either shuttered active glasses or polarized glasses. There isn't a good way yet of producing high-quality 3D on a TV without using glasses. Everyone asks us this question, "When can we get to the point where we don't need to put on glasses [to view 3D]?" We've not found anyone having a problem with wearing glasses so far--people wear sunglasses, people where glasses when they ride a mountain bike. If you're going to enjoy that experience, you put the glasses on while you're enjoying it.
In particular, we find [gamers are] very accepting of new types of peripherals. Particularly if it can enhance the gaming experience. They're very accepting of that. I think for the foreseeable future, we're going to be seeing glasses-based technology, certainly for TVs. If somebody comes up with a glasses-free solution that is cost effective... They are out there. Sony has a cylindrical 3D screen, and it produces a great 3D effect, but it's extremely costly. There's nothing on the horizon. There's nothing we're aware of to be able to produce a good TV-based 3D at the moment without the use of glasses. I don't expect that's going to change in the near future.
GS: Are gamers really the ones who are going to adopt 3D first?
MH: What we're seeing at the moment is a technology convergence. It's the first time we've ever been able to have high-quality 3D on a TV set in the home. So I think gamers will definitely drive the movement. [Gamers] are natural adopters of new technology, and 3D really brings something new to gaming.
But I think there's going to be a huge wave of sports fans who--once they see high-quality sports content in 3D--will want a 3D TV just to view that, and they may be gamers or they may not be gamers. And I think you've got movie fans who are going to come on board as well. When you buy your 3D camera or your 3D camcorder, you're going to want to view that content on something. So I think you've got a wave of different technologies right across the spectrum of media that are producing 3D, and all of this is going to lead people to want to buy these screens at some point.
Hmm for me it still seems like 2D 3D. I reckon i'm going to wait for full immersion VR, if i live to see it, when I can turn around and see what's behind me, even if it means wearing a sci-fi headset and walking into the wall of my room or something. i want to be in another world not just looking through the window.
I friggin' hate 3D I hope it dies. Wow, I sound like a certain someone. :P 3D is impractical. You cut performance by half due to the need for the 120HZ refresh rate, and what 3D i have seen looks terrible and it is terribly expensive. Plus, 15-20% of the population can't see 3d images like my dad. Others have trouble seeing the 3d like me. I think this is a fad and will die off. At least until they 1. Get rid of the glasses 2. Make the 3D effect better 3. lower the cost 4. keep picture quality comparable 5. allow 3d from multiple viewing angles because right now you have to be in front of it directly to see it. Games need to focus on graphics physics and destructible environments once they get to the point when it cant look better then add 3d once it has time to mature.
I think Sony is way off on this one. Maybe they are thinking because gamers pushed the HD thing that now they will do the same for 3d but I doubt it. For me personally, clarity of picture impacts my game experience alot so HD was great. As for 3d I couldn't give two hoots, its a gimmicky phase and I can't wait until it passes..
screw these people that say they don't want 3d. I want it, hell i want holograms like 3ds. I want to see the weapons and spells and guns, swords, etc. right at my fingertips. I want to see the monsters and mai jumping out of the screen. i love 3d. i want it hook it up!
From the start, I didn't like the idea of 3D going mainstream (as everyone knows, this being from Avatar). Ironically enough, I soon found out that I can't even view movies in 3D (as they cause me to black out). Sony is pushing something that as far as I can tell, the majority doesn't want. 3D is a useless gimmick, and Sony will be hurting when they find out that everything they just put all their money into isn't going to last. A good number of people can't view things in 3D for various reasons (headaches, black outs, eye problems, etc) and trying to make everything in 3D is going to take away a lot of sales. Oh by the way, Sony, I don't think many people are going to go out and buy a 3D TV just to see a football game.
f*** every publisher and company trying to push this 3d gimmick to its limits just to rip people off
I love how these top execs are always so confident even when 99% of the people around have a completely different view of the subject!
I'm certainly not sold. I'm not sold on motion gaming either, so I guess I'm out of the loop when it comes to the gaming industry of the future.
Poor Sony. They are so out of touch with gamers, they think the gamers WANT this 3D gimmick. We don't. Look at the Wii dominating in sales. Gamers don?t care about perfectly realistic graphics. They obviously want fun, unique games. This is not a trend in Japan only. Look at the NPD for another example of a major market looking more toward the less powerful systems. Hell, look at last gen, when the PS2 won against the superior power of the GC and Xbox. Power means nothing. In this case, gamers don't want silly gimmicks, they want fun and unique games.
"There's nothing we're aware of to be able to produce a good TV-based 3D at the moment without the use of glasses. I don't expect that's going to change in the near future" - Just Google "3d tv without glasses" and it's quite clear that this tech is just around the corner. You will be kicking yourself for getting one of these early glasses-based models.
I see all this 3D fad in video games and movies and I point my finger and blame one thing only: Avatar. Sure, 3D was definately around way before the film Avatar, but the film industry never fully utilized it until then. And once they saw the staggering amount of money Avatar raked in, they all want to impliment 3D into their products and hope for the same kind of success. But here's the catch that the video game industry needs to realize: it cost $10 to see Avatar in 3D, compare that to what you're forcing video gamers to experience 3D in your games...
3 Dimensional gaming is a gimmic D amn thing gives you a head ache S tupid glasses cost too much U need to watch TV in 3D, if you have a 3D TV... who wants to watch family guy in 3D? C ome on... people are actually buying new TVs for this crap? K why are they marketing this? S o pointless
And like some people are saying, you all should really do some research on the whole "3D" phenomenon. There are so many articles, and stories around, questioning the technology and the damaging effects to one's sight. I, myself suffer from headaches when watching anything 3D. So I will not risk damaging my sight, or health.
@HailHellfire I agree, but it will be a bumpy road. Like people are saying, the only reason it is working for the 3DS is, of course, the small screen. But I think in a few years, your statements will be true. It's only a matter of time before the same technology gets to be put on a big screen, however if it takes too long, 3D might not be the highest priority. Perhaps there will be a new and improved version of HD that will be clearer and sharper than the ones people have today. If that's the case, then 3D TV's will be thrown under the bus. So if it's possible to make a 3DS-like screen huge, than it has to be released soon.
I would rather wait till they come out with TVs where you don't need to wear 3D glasses & you can adjust the 3D range on your TV screen. I would not want to watch 3D everything on my TV, I find that to be rather ridiculous. They will eventually make TVs that work like the 3DS screen. Where you can adjust how strong you want your 3D range & whether you want to use 3D or not. It is pointless to buy a new 3D TV now when they have not refined the new technology for regular sized TVs, that is made for the new 3DS screens.
Nintendo has the right idea. Sony is openly saying here, that they're trying to get people to buy their TVs. Nintendo, on the other hand isn't forcing 3D. They're bringing 3D to the market, but in such a way that it does not inconvenience people, or make them obligated to buy something. One company is trying to push its product, while the other company is trying to sell intrigue and brand loyalty. They ultimately have the same end goal, but I know which one I support in the short term.
@MassApocalypse yeha man, a few of my friends have headaches when they watch something in 3D. I don't think they've covered that in the article. I use to work in an IMAX theater, and we had so many movies viewed in 3D. Yes it was a lovely experience for most of our visitors, but that was in IMAX screen (15m by 8m). they're huge and ppl can get really immersed in the picture. Still, some people leave the theater b4 the movies finish, and i'm talking about scientific moves, they're 45 mins long. How can someone like this be playing a 3d game for hours. these glasses are expensive. Comparing the 3D TVs experience with the IMAX 3D experience, IMAX wins. to be able to enjoy 3D u have to have a BIG SCREEN. And that will take a BIG chunk of ur pocket. I don't know how many of those 30 something millions who own a PS3 are actually willing to buy 3D TVs, at least at this prices.
Pardon me, while I find the nearest cliff to drive the 3d movement off of. I would of course jump out right before it went off, and it would be a terrible "accident" that the 3d movement went off the cliff and exploded. I'm sorry, but spending $1000s just for new gimmick is not something I want to do.
@zombiechopper Soooooo liking something makes me a 'fanboy'? Okaaaaay. I am a little disturbed by you saying you'd prefer to have a good game than a 3D game, dude they are one and the same thing as 3D is BACKWARD COMPATIBLE !. I play Mass Effect 2, Dragon Age Origins and many many other AAA titles in 3D so how are they now bad because they are in 3D? Get educated on cutting edge technology before you make another stupid generalisation.
"We've not found anyone having a problem with wearing glasses so far--people wear sunglasses, people where glasses when they ride a mountain bike. If you're going to enjoy that experience, you put the glasses on while you're enjoying it" People also wear glasses to see... they don't want to wear another pair on top of them to play their video games
The best games on the Wii are the ones that involve little or no motion control, and no visual gimmics and perks. It will be the same here. All the companies need to stop worrrying so much about these little things and get back to making gameplay their top priority
They need to start worrying more about gameplay content than visual gimmicks. It's the same with these stupid motion controllers (Wii, Kinect, Move) they're trying to get more people into gaming with gadgets and visual contrivances that can't make a bad game worth playing no matter how high-tech they are. We've already seen tons of shovelware on the Wii (companies trying to capitalize on the Wii-mote gimmick), and I'd rather they point their shovels somewhere other than my 360 or PS3 thank you.
You can't really say that 3D is harmful to your eyes if there are no studies to prove it. I've personally never had any problems with my eyes after viewing a 3d movie or playing a 3d game.
Gamers will drive it? Where? Into the ground? I'll do all I can to help see that 3D fails. I barely upgraded to an HDTV. I don't need to spend thousands of dollars again to "upgrade" to something that makes me put glasses on top of the glasses I already wear, gives me headaches, and is as gimmicky today as it was in the 80s. Maybe, maybe, maybe (MAYBE) if the tech was cheaper I would think about it. Maybe.
Notice how MH didn't really answer the question about the negatives of putting 3D into games. Gamers just don't accept new technology as MH implies. It has to be compelling and cost-effective. Music games have really been the only ones to succeed with this. Even Sony failed with their PS2 HD add-on. And he's flat-out lying when he says "We've not found anyone having a problem with wearing glasses so far." There are currently warnings about children watching movies in 3D and for anyone watching for extended periods of time. Not to mention wearing 3D glasses on top of prescription glasses. 3D is just the latest "feature" used to drive up the prices and profit margins on TVs, now that all the really meaningful things have been done.
3D will be awesome once the interface becomes transparent-- meaning that when the tech is good enough that you can simply become immersed without thinking about the gadgetry, great stories can really come to life. Granted, in the meantime, we'll have to deal with "tech demo" games, but eventually, this will be awesome. :)
Hopefully gamers won't dive into this? The U.S government practically forced every citizen to buy an HD TV back in May and then pushed it into July. The Spanish government is also trying to force its citizens in HD. Truly shows that developing countries can't even afford HD. This is a gimmick and then it will be another gimmick
3D is like a strong spice. Just a little, every now and then. I like having the option to turn it on AND off.
I think we all should just continue not buying 3DTVs so that they lower the prices even further so it's on par with regular HDTV prices, then we buy them.
So gamers need to blame Avatar for creating this 3D mess. Coolyfett does not want to wear shades to get his game on.
They should not put all their eggs in the 3D baskets. Coolyfett does not trust the technology. HD is good enough. Coolyfett has no need to wear shades while watching the World Series or Superbowl. Coolyfet is a fan of Sony, but he is a lil lerry of this.
Households are only just shifting over to hdtv, to expect people to be ready to go the route of 3dtvs is unrealistic. Many (if not all) 3dtvs out now require the use of glasses. This is a disadvantage to anyone who already wears regular glasses. Nothing is more uncomfortable then having to wear 2 sets of glasses on top each other. One day 3d may be the it thing but relax and weight a bit before jumping in.
@ snailz is right on. I've been playing in 3D PC games using Nvidia 3D vision for over a year now on my 3 year old DLP 67" 1080p HDTV. A lot of people here have some ignorant opinions of 3D in games. I am not even the biggest 3D movie fan, but 3D in games is a perfect fit. There is something about having that control of the camera in 3D game that is very immersive. Being able to see depth and distance not only adds to immerssion but also adds to gameplay in many cases. Taking curves in racing games, or pitching in a baseball game, or even batmans x-ray vision is a cool effect in 2D but in 3D it is incredible both to look at but it also gives you a better sense of depth between the enemies therefor it gives you a better sense of the environment they are in. Its subtle but I find it across the board improves the experience. Favorite 3D games I've played (Batman AA, Just Cause 2, Bad Company 2, Rocket Knight, Zombie Driver, Metro 2033). Play a 3D Ready Game, then pass judgment, everyone that I have shown it to is blown away.
To me 3D gaming is an optional thing. So I'll may or may not buy 3D television but whenever I does I'm happy to know that PlayStation 3 is there to support it.
No wonder why companies these days can't bring out a game with a decent storyline and gameplay. They're too focused on gimmicks such as 3D and Motion controls.. I mean seriously, who wants to play a game in 3D, when you can just sit back, relax, and play them on an LCD for $1000 less without wearing silly glasses? The whole idea of that is ludicrous...
I don't have the cash to afford a 3d television soo I guess I'll stick to my roots I've been with for 19 years play the good ol buys on my lcd hd tv... Gosh I'm getting old...
Benny_a, what's that?? (checks Amazon) Ooo, you're right, the prices are dropping like a rock. Ninpo187, sorry but you can't put story into a 30 second commercial. ;) Really though, it isn't like developers must choose between story and stereoscopic. Most games came out decent in stereo on the PC with no development time spent at all. I don't think there's really any need to funnel development dollars away from the writers to make 3D work.
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