The PS3 3D Myth
While some see 3D as a passing fad, I personally believe it is going to add a lot to gaming. That being said, it was not entirely surprising when Sony announced that the PlayStation 3 would be getting Stereoscopic game support of its own this year. However, something of a fallacy about how this implementation will work has come to surface among many gamers.
The general understanding was at one point, and still is for some, that the coming PlayStation 3 patch will create backwards compatibility for every game in their collection. Thinking that the coming PS3 3D support will render every game you own in 3D is a mistake. There is still work that needs to be done to bring each game individually into 3D and there is something you don’t know about the 3D games coming to the PS3.
First off, let’s cover why the PS3 will not instantly be 3D for all games in the existing library when the feature is implemented. Although, all HD games do possess the potential to be converted to Stereoscopic 3D, they are not immediately ready for it. Work must be done by developers to bring the HD game into 3D and in the case of the PlayStation 3 there is an issue with existing games already maxing out the capabilities of HD.
Engadget reports (via Digital Foundry) that Wipeout HD had to be downgraded from 1080p to 720p graphics as well as reduced from 60hz to 30hz refresh rate, reducing the pixel size by around a quarter of a million pixels and opening up the processing overhead necessary for 3D. Motorstorm: Pacific Rift suffers a similar fate having already been 720p 30hz native, developers had to reduce the quality even lower to achieve the bandwidth needed for 3D.
This news brought a stern realization that although great PS3 exclusives we all know and love are able to be redefined in 3D, it will be at a sacrifice. It seems apparent that some developers are going to pass at the chance to re-make their old games in 3D and instead opt for making new titles. Since new titles will be native 3D, they stand the chance at having higher quality than HD conversions, but in the big picture these might have to sacrifice a little something as well to achieve that better 3D HD graphical edge.
With the latest patch from Sony PlayStation updating Blu-Ray features in a particular way we have more proof that there may be underlying issues not being brought to the light about the limitations of PS3’s 3D capabilities. One feature that stood out was the unlocking of the optical port (toslink) for audio output while watching Blu-Ray movies. This was said to be a part of the patch that helped prep the system for 3D HD.
Currently there is no movie patch release date announced and it is evident that 3D games will likely be arriving on the PlayStation 3 with fully gained mainstream support before 3D movies will. However, this update poses the question, is the PlayStation 3 compatible to the HDMI 1.4 standard coming forth in the next-gen of 3D devices? The answer seems to point to no, because early adopters of the PS3 3D movie experience will likely have to use the optical cord now to get the audio in a sub-standard way as a trade-off to experience Stereoscopic 3D films. With the announcement of a new PlayStation SKU featuring improved hardware, this issue also poses the question of whether or not a new SKU would bring a more complete HDMI 1.4 solution.
The PS3 will be getting 3D games from the existing library, but this will not happen overnight and without effort. Movies will come in time as well. The myth is that everything you now own will be 3D compatible and that is simply not true. The other myth is that this is the maximum 3D experience, unfortunately that may not come to us until next generation.
While I fully believe great 3D experiences are headed our way in gaming and movies, and this is a huge step for the industry on the whole, I felt the need to clarify these details for the gamers out there who are willing to spend their hard earned money and deserve all the facts upfront. There are some great things about 3D, such as the ability developers to actually stop using field-of-view programming to focus bandwidth on other things, while replacing it with the much more realistic and immersion-inducing view that is inherent in 3D design.
After trying the technology out first hand at PAX East 2010 on the PC with Battlefield: Bad Company 2 I have no doubt that this will not only catch on, but indeed continue to evolve just as High Definition has over the years eventually bringing us to where we are now with HD. I personally want to experience 3D this generation, but given the exposed limitations, I can clearly see that the full realization of the technology will not occur with the hardware existing on the market today and PS3 3D games (while likely amazing) are still just an early taste of 3D console gaming while 3D gaming itself is in its infancy.
Only time will tell what the future holds for the 3D medium. With all of the major movie studios that are on board secretly stashing up loads of 3D HD content (sports, movies, television, and of course games) to unleash on the masses, and major platforms like PC, Blu-Ray, PlayStation 3 lining up to distribute said content, I have no doubt that the technology will indeed break new grounds and eventually become a standard as High Definition is becoming today. Will this take a year, 5 years, or 10 years? It is all up to you folks. Your money is your vote, so don’t simply adhere to what I think. Make up your own minds on the matter after educating yourselves and let us know what you think.