Friday, December 19, 2008

3D after all?, part III

There are rumours that the PlayStation3 will be the next console to offer stereoscopic three-dimensional visuals. Apparently, Sony "fully intends" to support 3D output, both for gaming and Blu-ray playback as of 2009.

The rumours originate from a website called Meant to be seen, a self-proclaimed "stereoscopic 3D Certification and Advocacy group" financed by some 3D hardware manufacturers. The website has published an article which claims:

I have received confirmation from Blitz Games Studios that Sony "fully intends" to support stereoscopic 3D gaming and Blu-ray 3D on the Sony Playstation 3 (PS3) in 2009. Blitz will of course be helping back this technology with their Blitz Tech engine.

The best part is console support will only need a bios upgrade to work, and we are told that the ability to add this capability via bios may be unique to Sony PS3 versus the other console solutions.

Blitz Games Studios has developed the ´King Games´ for Burger King, ´Fuzion Frenzy´ and ´Zapper´, as well as the questionable ´Reservoir Dogs´ and ´Bad Boys II´. The company also licenses middleware technology called BlitzTech, which they claim has "powered over 25 titles, totalling over 70 releases covering 8 platforms". It would appear, though, as if the studio has been unable to sell their technology to other developers.

Nevertheless, the BlitzTech features make an impressive read. The paragraph about 3DTV is accompanied by the following mock-up - bearing a PlayStation3 controller.

BlitzTech is at the forefront of rising interest in 3D displays for the home with exciting possibilities for presenting content with higher realism and sense of player immersion in breathtaking 3D. In a complex market with competing technologies the key to increasing adoption is to ensure compatibility with the widest possible range of displays to unlock the potential of amazing 3D display hardware out there. The engine provides a highly flexible stock solution that supports all current suitable formats including active and passive glasses as well as newer auto-stereoscopic displays not only on PC but uniquely also on high-definition console - an industry first.

While there have always been third party solutions for converting standard video signals into stereoscopic 3D images by means of shutter glasses, this would be only the second time ever that a console manufacturer fully endorses the technology, after Nintendo's failed Virtual Boy.

I am a little suspicious of this rumour. Auto-stereoscopic displays still are too expensive to reach a mass market. Of course, videogame companies have been toying with this technology for years. But, currently, headgear is the only possible means to bring 3D visuals to a large audience. And what normal person wants to sit on a couch wearing glasses?

Ubisoft is developing a 3D game, which apparently will use shutter glasses. But in a trailer from 2007, the publisher made it quite clear that they want to do away with those glasses, if possible.

I am sure that there is some truth to this rumour. If Sony is being mentioned, they must have been in talks with the studio. However, I can only cynically assume that both the studio and the so-called advocacy group blew Sony's positive feedback totally out of proportion. After all, building hype is just what these two companies want.

Having said that, I would absolutely love it if this rumour was true and I could watch my EyePet run circles around me next year. That would no doubt become the system seller which Sony so badly needs.

Sources: Meant to be seen, Blitz Games Studios
Thanks to: Raphael, Joystiq

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