There's no doubt that 3D was the buzzword of CES 2010. Between big announcements like Disney and ESPN 3D TV channels and the slew of monitors and TV sets that support stereoscopic 3D, however, we have to wonder where video games fit in.
On the one hand, 3D could be turn into the format war between HD and Blu-Ray where the video games industry can play a part in determining how we handle the 3D experience. Or 3D could be like the classic virtual reality gaming -- complete with space-age headgear and Power Glove-style gauntlets -- that died out for lack of interest (among other things).
In the wake of CES 3D fever, we're left with a situation in the video games industry where hardly anybody -- not the gamers and for the most part, not the developers -- is really gung-ho about 3D games.
Sony seems to stand alone as the one major console-maker/game-publisher that's completely behind the new format. At their CES press conference last Wednesday night, CEO Sir Howard Stringer made much of the new format and of the firmware update to the PlayStation 3 that would bring 3D gaming to the console.
The general reaction of the gamer audience to that statement was apathy. During the press conference's live Ustream feed, the Social Stream was filled with tweets and Facebook status updates all echoing the statement "I don't care about 3D," -- which is what many of you said in the comments when we reported on the firmware update.
The audience for 3D gaming, however, is only half the story. The other half is the talent -- game developers and studios who produce products for the PS3, the Wii and the Xbox 360 that will ultimately be responsible for making or not making games that use 3D.
We spoke with several developers following the barrage of 3D-related announcements out of CES about their feelings on 3D. Some of them already had games in development or on shelves that support it; some of them aren't even considering it as an option any time in the near future. The one point on which all the developers agree is that the price point has to come down before 3D will get anywhere with gamers.
"I think it's like when the first plasma TV's and the first LCD TV's came out when everyone was like it's a cool as heck TV that I can hang on my wall but it's $5,000," said Russell Byrd, president of Panic Button games and producer on Wii 3D shooter Attack of the Movies. "The technology that people are going to need to make it really work well is currently at such a high price point that you just are going to get some early adopters but they are going to have to get that technology price down before it gets more mainstream."