Sony goes in-depth on 3D

Gamescom 2011: SCEE senior group studio director Mick Hocking gives a progress report on the PS3's 3D game push, says the technology's time has arrived, leaves door open for a 3D-capable iteration of PlayStation Vita.

Sony has been pushing stereoscopic 3D gaming on the PlayStation 3 for nearly two years, and the company is maintaining its commitment for the foreseeable future. This holiday season could be a particularly significant one for Sony's 3D initiative, as the electronics giant is releasing its own PlayStation-branded 3D monitor that will allow for full-screen two-player head-to-head gaming in supported titles, along with anticipated 3D-supporting titles like Resistance 3 and Uncharted 3.

Sony Europe's in-house 3D advocate, Mick Hocking.

To get the latest on Sony's 3D efforts, GameSpot talked to Sony Computer Entertainment Europe senior group studio director Mick Hocking at the recently wrapped Gamescom. Hocking went into detail on a number of subjects, including Sony's quality checks for 3D games, why the PlayStation Vita will launch as a 2D system, and why Sony isn't trying to single out a killer app for the new technology.

GameSpot: The performance of Nintendo's 3DS suggests that maybe gamers aren't quite as wild about the technology as previously thought. As an outside observer, has Sony taken any lessons from its competitor's struggles?

Mick Hocking: So I wouldn't comment directly on 3DS, but I think what we've seen over the last 12 months is a strong correlation between good-quality 3D content and great response from our fan base. The opposite is also true. When people see 3D that doesn't work very well, or content that isn't very compelling, I think quite naturally they're not as interested in it.

A message we've been giving to all of our PS3 developers is add 3D where it adds something to the game. It's not a tickbox we want on all the game boxes; we want 3D to add to the experience, whether it's enhancing a racing experience or creating greater immersion in Killzone or Uncharted 3. The other really important thing is to do it well. We've now got 10 3D quality checks that we want all games to adhere to. And we're telling everyone about how to do this. If 3D's done well, it can really enhance the game experience.

GS: Can you tell us about those 10 checks?

MH: They're things like making sure you have the same content in each eye. When you look at the real world, your eyes see exactly the same thing; the only difference is a horizontal offset. So when you produce in 3D, make sure both eyes are the same, make sure they're in sync. Make sure you're giving enough 3D to give the user a good 3D experience, but not too much to make it uncomfortable. And there are lots of technical things like depth conflicts and fusion issues.

Going 3D can introduce some unusual problems, like where to put the crosshairs in a first-person shooter.

We've had examples in the last 12 months with crosshairs in a shooter game is a good example. When you go into 3D, the crosshair is still on the screen, but the gun points into the screen and they don't line up. So you have to decide where in 3D space to draw your crosshair. If you draw it at the depth of the enemy, that's technically correct, but then as you move and pan around the scene, it's jumping because it sits at the depth of whatever it's looking at. So it's not very comfortable. With shooters, what we have to do is find a position at 3D space to draw the crosshairs so that it looks at the point the gun's aiming at, but it's between the end of the gun and the enemy, and adjusts slowly. So there are lots of things like that we ask developers to look out for.

GS: That sounds like rigorous quality control for 3D at Sony. Do you feel like 3D movies in cinemas are spoiling it for everyone else, spoiling consumers on the experience?

MH: I think it's back to my earlier point. Consumers are very savvy with quality in all aspects of media, whether that's the story, the dialogue, the special effects. And 3D is the same. They can tell 3D when it's done well. It's important when 3D is done, it's done correctly and considered.

GS: The PlayStation Vita is conspicuously 2D. Was 3D discussed for the handheld? What was the reason that feature was left out?

MH: At the time we were looking at Vita, there were several issues. One was the quality of the glasses-free 3D screens. It can work very well on small screens, but to get the best effect, you need to keep your head very, very still. Now with a handheld gaming device and Vita having Sixaxis motion control in it, there may be gameplay where you're moving the Vita around. And if you're doing that and having glasses-free 3D, the two things don't sit very well together. We wanted to offer a really, really high-resolution OLED screen, and the best way to do that was in 2D. At least for the first one.

GS: Consumers often wait until gaming hardware has a killer app before they invest in it. Will there be a killer app for 3D TV adoption, or is it just a matter of amassing enough high-profile 3D-capable games?

3D might be an option for a PS Vita follow-up.

MH: I think it will be gradual. We've seen a gradual growth over the last 12 months, and we see that continuing and getting stronger, if anything. The price of 3DTVs is coming down rapidly. The glasses are improving all the time. In the next three or four years, about half of all new TVs will support 3D, and that number will grow rapidly. The TV manufacturers are just building this into their production processes now and having it as a value-added feature.

One thing we've tried to be careful of is with cinema, Avatar is the pinnacle of 3D. In games, I've been asked where is the Avatar of games, the big killer app. And we don't want just one of those. We're working really hard to make all of our games very high quality in 3D. We don't want peaks and troughs. We want a consistent level of quality.

GS: Does Sony have a sense of what proportion of PS3 gamers are experiencing 3D?

MH: It's growing rapidly. And to enjoy 3D, you need a 3D display, so it is a function of how fast the 3DTV market is growing. I don't have specific figures today, but we've had a very successful first 12 months. We've got 50 million 3D-enabled PS3s out there, more than 50 3D games which have had great reception so far.

GS: What is the ideal 3D setup for gaming? Active glasses or passive? LCD or plasma? Does Sony expect the market to tilt in any particular direction?

MH: My completely unbiased answer would be a 3D Bravia with a PS3. [Laughs] It's about quality for us. In all of our electronics and software, we're pushing for quality because you do need good quality for 3D. I think there's a lot of good quality out there at the moment and it's improving all the time. In the next couple of years, all the problems will probably get solved and the prices will come down. Our job is to keep the software improving at the same level.

GS: And perhaps lower-priced 3D as well, seen with the small Sony TV that allows same-room, non-split-screen multiplayer.

Sony's 3D PlayStation monitor will come with Motorstorm: Apocalypse.

MH: It's actually a monitor, not a TV, as it hasn't got a tuner in it. But that's PlayStation's first monitor. It's really fantastic. We've worked very closely with the team developing that in Japan. You're getting full high-def 2D and 3D, and a very high quality screen. It's an ideal one for the second room in the bedroom or the office. And we've been able with the single-view technology to now give them the ability to do two-player fullscreen head-to-head gaming. It's extremely effective. It's quite weird to watch when you see one person bowling and one person batting, but you can't see each other's screens.

What's great for us is a year ago, this was an R&D exercise, an idea we had. And now we've released it in the market a year later. That's really exciting for us because it shows we can come up with new technology ideas and get them out to market quickly.

GS: We asked you this last year, but it's always good to get an update. How far are we from glasses-free 3D TV sets as a viable option for consumers?

MH: At the moment, the best way to get high-quality 3D is with active shutter glasses. If you want full high definition, you need active shutter glasses and a Sony Bravia screen. There are glasses-free TVs now, from small screens to large screens. The issue with glasses-free is however you do it, you've got to get a different image to each eye. So you're essentially playing with the laws of physics here. You can use filters on the screen, prisms, lenses… And they can work very well for a single viewer, as long as you keep your relative position to the screen constant. The problem comes when you move your head relative to the screen and you see artifacts, or when you want three viewers to enjoy the same experience. Lots of people are working on this at the moment.

With glasses, we think if the content is compelling enough, people don't mind wearing them because they're being excited and amazed by the 3D experience. But there are a lot of people working on glasses-free, and I don't know how long it will take because it is a very difficult problem to solve. There is a technique called integral imaging which possibly offers a solution. The issue at the moment is it's hard to build into a display at a very high resolution. It's like a collection of very, very small fish-eye lenses. So if you imagine we took a picture of you with a special integral imaging camera, we'll have a whole array of tiny pictures of you with fish-eye lenses, so it captures the light from every angle. And then you have fish-eye lenses on the screen, so that wherever I sit and look at it, each eye is getting the light as it would have done from any point in front of you. So it means you can have true 3D from any angle, but it's very, very difficult to think how we could build that into a display.

GS: EA has said that it's not so keen on pressing users with 3D. It would rather follow what the users are interested in adopting, so it's going off with social and mobile. Do you feel the better approach is to push it more because consumers don't know how great 3D is going to be?

MH: Our position on 3D is it's a great new feature for many games. One thing we've been saying is that it's also very low investment…at a maximum around 2 percent of the dev budget, but mostly around half a percent of the development budget. It's a couple of coders for a few months to actually get it integrated, and then some creative work with designers to understand it. 3D can be done very well at low investment, and we think it's a great feature to offer all our gaming fans.

GS: We've seen waves of 3D tried and failed in decades gone by. Why is it going to succeed this time when it hasn't succeeded before?

MH: What's different about today is this is the first time we've been able to offer high-quality 3D: a high-quality display with high resolution, high refresh rates, high-quality software and movie experiences. Previously, you could have high quality at huge expense, or you could have low-cost items, but it was difficult to achieve any kind of quality. So this is the first time the technology's really allowed us to do high-quality 3D. I think this time we'll see 3D continue to be adopted and continue to grow. It'll just be another way to enjoy gaming experiences. I don't think it's going to replace 2D, but it'll be another way to enjoy certain types of games.

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Discussion

151 comments
chyng85
chyng85

Sony please keep your good work~

Do not lose to Xbox~

Getbacktogaming
Getbacktogaming

3D is freakin' cool. People just whine because they don't have the proper setup but take games like GT5, Uncharted 3, Motorstorm Apocalypse, Wipeout HD... play it just for like 30 minutes in 3D and try switching back to 2D I swear what used to look great will look so boring next to the adding realism of the 3rd dimension. Seriously I played Black Ops, Arkham City, Crysis 2 and Gears of War 3 in 3D on my Xbox and I wanted more. I bought a PS3 and I'll never look back. 3D is only looking better and better.

omho88
omho88

I would like to try it out but the price prevents me.

kriggy
kriggy

Everytime I have tried 3D it was no good at all. I'm just saying out of old experience that I don't want a warzone in my livingroom. I want it in my TV. At least as the technology looks like at the very moment.

Double_Wide
Double_Wide

Why is 3D being shoved down everyone's throats? And who are the people demanding it because I haven't met one person yet that "simply loves" 3D and can't view anything without it.

KrazzyDJ
KrazzyDJ

3D is good but it should never be done with the intent of throwing off 2D completely !!!

excelx213
excelx213

my girlfriend punched me in the eye, i now see everything in 3d! it's amazing! i need to lay down the controller and start paying more attention to her... =x

deathblow3
deathblow3

@godzillavskong yeah i have seen and played killzone in 3d the effect is usefull for judging distance to some degree. but i see it as just a fad you will have some people that love it, some that dont care and some that hate it, in killzone i found it distracting. i love it for movies not so much for games.

Ripper_TV
Ripper_TV

3D sucks, it's NOT the future. Case closed.

simon1812
simon1812

Stereoscopic 3D is overrated.

SC-Recruiter
SC-Recruiter

The technology is advancing rapidly with the new LG TV's that only require battery free glasses like what is supplied at theaters. Soon glassless 3d will storm the market and soon after that it will be the standard. I will not buy a 2D Vita. I was really looking forward to it.

Sigil-otaku
Sigil-otaku

3D is not a bad feature, but it's not a worthwhile feature in my opinion. In the end how many people buy 3D TV's, a PS3, the glasses and then games just for that little feature? And how many games do we have that run in proper 3D to back up the expense? There's not enough support, not enough of a market yet because of the price and not enough justification. As long as Sony keeps it optional it'll be just that, an optional feature most will skip as it's too expensive to waste time on unless you've got so much cash that any under supported product can do no wrong and is 'worth it'. The other problem besides dev support and lack of a decent library is that it could become another one of those time wasting and expense stacking features for the minority that leave devs to not just do next gen games, but NEXT gen games (i.e. even less focus on good gameplay and more on graphics and features). It's not needed for good games, it's just an expensive thing for people to pay for that enhances gameplay in no way.

sizzlingdviper
sizzlingdviper

If Sony launch a 3D monitor to use with a PS3 then that would be good,especially if you can view it without the need for sitting around in those Daft 3D glasses-I wont be interested in viewing 3D movies or playing 3D games until such a device is available.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@Rahnyc4 everyone that I know that has a ps3 and it is allot of people play on their ps3 in 3d

Rahnyc4
Rahnyc4

hey, sony. no one play in 3d on your system, only a small few does.

OmegaBob
OmegaBob

My problem with 3D on Bluray and on the PS3 is that there is very little content for adults. 90% of the BD are kids films & the other 10% are demos, IMAX and select PG-R rated films... and there are only a handful of games that currently have a 3D option. So unless you have a 3D cable channel, there is really no point to own a 3D HDTV as there is no real content. Oh, the 3D cable channels have limited programming that repeats 24/7 in a loop so even that is worthless after watching for a day or two (I own two Samsung HDTVs bc I shoot 3D photos and videos and its an easy way to display them) Note: the kids films are fine if you have kids or want to show off the 3D effects but it would be nice to have more PG-R rated titles. Also, 3D has been available for PC gamers since the late 1990's (any PC game that uses polygonal gfx can be played in 3D). I owned the wired shutter glasses and the FPS I played in 3D were cool, but I eventually got annoyed with having to wear the glasses and tweaking the settings. Basically, the tech is the same now as it was back then, but it still hasn't caught on... I doubt it will now (although I wish Sony luck as I want that PlayStation 3D TV)

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@deathblow3 Interesting. I'm just not that huge into the 3D phase of gaming. I guess if I get a chance to experience it and actually see what all the hype is about then maybe, but right now I'll just wait it out.

flyinknee91
flyinknee91

@godzillavskong I understand that some people might be worried about Sony and Microsoft conforming their software to solely cater to move/kinect specific titles. Here's why that will never happen: Nintendo already made that mistake; the market was flooded with crapware because the ease of development allowed companies to shoot out gimmicky games on the Wii platform.They created a system that's hardware could really only be functional for those style of games. If you look at the best games for the Wii, they all come from within Nintendo itself, and take little use of the motion controls (I.e- Twilight Princess, Super Mario Galaxy, SSBB, etc...) I think Nintendo had the right idea of how to incorporate motion controls into their system, however, failed on the follow through. Initially, motion control seemed like it was intended to further immersion of a game, but third party developers saw it solely as a way to make cheap gimmicky games that families would drool over. Sony and Microsoft seem to have the right idea (Kind of picking off where Nintendo started); they have the hardware to back up motion control, and they already have deep libraries of games that could never be over-run by crapware. -------->

flyinknee91
flyinknee91

Basically, what I'm trying to say is, what people consider gimmicks (e.g motion control and 3d) aren't intended to become the proprietary form of gaming; their intention is to simply deepen immersion. And you put it right, the awesome thing about all this is that Sony/MS aren't shoving it down our throats, which was the downfall of the Wii for mature gamers; you don't have to use it.

wars45
wars45

mates got a 3d and i cant wait till have got the money to buy a 3dtv killzone 3 is ace in 3d most films are going 3d .3d is hear to stay sky spent a lot of money on 3d footballs ace in 3d as well in time u will not need glass for 3d tv but thats about 5 years away

kb8618
kb8618

eh, there's nothing like coming home from seeing everything in 3D and watching a few hours of 2D TV But honestly, I will not consider buying a new TV until 4K passive 3D OLED (or better) TVs come out, with no picture issues (Vizio) and cost under 2000 for a 46"

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

@flyinknee91 Thats probably the best way to put it. No one is making anyone purchase this stuff. The only thing that may irritate some gamers is the fact that they will shift their focus primarily to those type of games, like with Kinect, or Move, with the difference being I'm sure you can probably turn the 3D option off. Well put, if you don't like it , or want it, don't buy it.

godzillavskong
godzillavskong

I'm just waiting until they get the 3D tech where you don't have to wear those glasses, then maybe I'll jump aboard. I have a LED,4 LCDs, and 1 DLP(on it's last legs)in my home, none of which are 3D capable, and I do not feel like investing in another tv.So I am going to wait, which I'm sure the tech will come soon, where you don't have to wear those glasses, then I'll be all set. I heard a rumor that Sony was working on the tech, which is going to be downloaded via your PS3, which will enable 3D without the glasses. That would be nice. Until then I'll be waiting.

megakick
megakick

Sony wants to push 3-D so they can make more proprietary products... That's all Sony cares about.

ezjohny
ezjohny

Sony here me out, you got to make a console with up to date hardware that's up with the PCs hardware so we could get the next generation in gaming going! Every thing relies on the hardware, you put awesome hardware in your console you could take 3D and games to another level even better than to days games, that's my opinion, this is for the PS4!!!

Spartan765
Spartan765

sony's obsessed with 3D but its just makes gaming better and also because it is optional

leeko_link
leeko_link

As cool as playing or seeing stuff in 3D are, I don't think the gimmick is ready to be the standard for entertainment of the future yet. Besides ppl this gen are beginning to get into HD, jumping the ship to 3D already is a little too soon.

littleghostie
littleghostie

I think i speak for a lot of people when i say, 3D GIVES ME A HEADACHE!!! I wish they would quit pushing it on us so hard.

Triton
Triton

@as1138 As far as the movies go - Far and few between to become mainstream. I just do not see it taking off, especially in this economy. (at least the next couple of years, maybe)

Richardthe3rd
Richardthe3rd

Equipment isn't the only issue revolving around 3D though. It's having developers and producers that are sophisticated enough to use it well, and in a meaningful way.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@bigtruckseries I don't know anyone that doesn't have an hd tv hell even my 80 year old grandma has an hd tv she even has 2 of them and the 3d now isn't the same has it used to be it is allot better and if you have a ps3 and not an hdtv then there is something wrong with you

Naxct
Naxct

just keep updating me up k.

bigtruckseries
bigtruckseries

@shadowhunter0 3D has failed on virtually every home console it's been on. Eye-aches and headaches are the culprit - That's why it hasn't caught on and probably never will. Not to mention the fact that most households in America (and the rest of the world) still don't have HDTV's. Where are these games to be played? Until the cost of manufacturing a stereoscopic 3DHDTV come down, this is never gonna work. In fact, 3D had a better chance of working with SDTV's because their larger size would have allowed multiple stereoscopic screens to be put inside a reasonably sized frame.

flyinknee91
flyinknee91

The great thing about 3d is that it's not necessary. Stop complaining. Seriously, I'm getting sick of the gaming community, because most all of you find something to complain about for everything. If you don't like 3d, don't buy it; it's that simple. If you have the extra money/ interest, try it out. The fact that sony is pushing 3d takes nothing away from the games that they're putting out. A good thing about 3d is that it's just some lines of code that developers put into their games; it's very easy to do. But, just like everything else on this site, it has to turn into ps3 vs. 360, and I've even seen ps3 vs nintendo now. Come on people: does every single piece of gaming news need to turn into a fanboy **** storm? Just because Sony is thinking about incorporating 3d on a hand-held device doesn't mean that they're ripping off the 3ds; if 3d is the way that the market is heading, then of course companies are going to put that latest trend into their devices.

Fiury_ltu
Fiury_ltu

@buying1999 in what kind of dream world are you living ?

CptRexKramer
CptRexKramer

Well, for those that enjoy 3D gaming (As well as movies, for that matter.), have at it. Personally, I detest 3D of any sort, so I'll just stick with the good old fashion, tried and true, old school 2D format. 'Cause that's how I roll.

buying1999
buying1999

ROFL Sony is still trying to push 3D. That's all they've got!! Even the price drop isn't enough to stop the tidal wave of 360 sales. 360 is just stomping the Earth with ps3. Oh man it's a good day to be a 360 gamer.

bat725
bat725

Seriously, though, the pproblem with 3D gaming, and a lot of movies, is that there aren't enough objects coming out of the screen. To me, that's what makes a 3D experience. As for the fad going away, I own over a dozen 3D movies, and there's over a dozen that I don't own, with about a dozen more coming out this year alone. People who hate on 3D are pathetic. Stop hatin'!

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@DarthVeng_basic like I said before I know allot of people that have a 3d tv and they love it and that is how I got hooked on it by playing games on one of my friends 3d tv the glasses don't bother me backgrounds aren't blurry and I have never gotten a headache from it and Avatar looked allot better in 3d and I have seen both so your problems might be from that you have seen it from something that doesn't do 3d well @ShadowofSonic no I'm not I'm just giving you the facts

bat725
bat725

Who the hell watches Avatar in 2D? Lol!

TTDog
TTDog

Of course the "push" on 3D games has nothing to do with the small matter that Sony also make 3DTV's

DarthVeng_basic
DarthVeng_basic

@shadowhunter0 : Nice to see how much you are buying into the fad. Enjoy it while it lasts. 3D doesn't add a single thing to the "experience" other than expense, annoying glasses, blurry backgrounds, and headaches down the road. Avatar is utter garbage in 3D. Avatar is a much clearer, vibrant, and watchable picture in 2D, as is everything compared to 3D.

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

[This message was deleted at the request of a moderator or administrator]

warhawk-geeby
warhawk-geeby

Microsoft tries ramming Kinect down your throat.. Sony tries ramming 3D down your throat.. When are these guys going to realise that we don't actually want the things..? I'm all for innovation, but the games for Kinect are just plain turd, and 3D gaming is just annoying. I want to sit in front of my TV and play games - without having to move excessively and without having to wear stupid little glasses and have things jumping out at my face. That is all. Rant over.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@ShadowofSonic actually Sony has been working on motion controls allot longer than Nintendo they had to wait until the technology was made to create it and the 3d on the 3ds sucks if you don't hold it in the right spot it doesn't work and I'm sure Sony is working on it to be way better just like the move is

ShadowofSonic
ShadowofSonic

First Sony rips off Nintendo with the Move,then rips off it's 3D handheld,way to be original,Sony.

shadowhunter0
shadowhunter0

@DarthVeng_basic it does make a great games like kz3 socom 4 and others much better and it isn't a gimmick it adds depths and makes them more funner to play and Avatar is great and in 3d it is even better but yeah if the game/movie sucks then the 3d doesn't help but there are great movies/games that the 3d was done right and there are allot more games on the ps3 where the 3d adds to the experience then there are bad games/3d

Getbacktogaming
Getbacktogaming

 @OmegaBob Handful???  What the hell there are over 100 3D games on the PS3 alone http://www.3dtested.com/ seriously. I have to admit though the nicest looking 3DBD are animations but then I personnally enjoy a lot of them... and I couldn't care less about 3D TV content. Even "fake" 3D on most TVs enhances the image a hell of a lot on videogames especially... anyways I'll give you that much I was disappointed like hell that neither Beyond: Two Souls nor The Last of Us is gonna be 3D but otherwise I'm looking forward to God of War: Ascension (you can't ask for more adult!!! LOL)

Getbacktogaming
Getbacktogaming

 @buying1999 I love my Xbox but Gears of War 3's 3D mode is pretty bland next to Uncharted 3. Which is why I just got a PS3. Nevermind 3D, get a life and purchase a second system for a ridiculously great exclusives. I read your BS all the time on the Lens of Truth and yup Xbox is pretty good when it come to 3rd party titles but do yourself a favor and come take a look at 1st party games on the PS3... you owe it to yourself if you enjoy games above biased fanboyism.