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Sony: 3D is not a fad

Bigs up tech at Edinburgh Festival.

Sony has promised gamers 3D is for real despite admitting it "won't be an overnight success".

"Surely it's got to be a fad," Sony Computer Entertainment Europe senior vice president Ray Maguire told an audience at the Edinburgh Interactive Festival this morning during a presentation entitled "From the Lens to the Living Room".

"Well, maybe not this time. Maybe things are slightly different this time."

Maguire pointed to a May 2010 Future Source survey that predicted 40 per cent of all UK TVs will be 3D enabled by 2014 as evidence of the inevitable mass market appeal of the technology.

"2014 is not that far away," Maguire said. "When you are talking about, well, will they go out and buy a £3000, £2000 TV, the answer is Future Source think yes."

3D improves the experience gamers get out of core genres such as first-person shooters and racing, the Sony executive added.

"In simulation racing games improved depth perception allows you to judge relative speed and distance more accurately. It gives you more precision in judging racing lines and the breaking points crucial for improving your lap times.

"We've also noticed it opens up driving games to people who normally find driving using a TV screen difficult compared with real driving. The experience is closer to what they're used to in the real world."

Sony is pushing 3D hard. It manufactures 3D-enabled televisions, creates 3D videogames and has already updated the PS3 to output in 3D.

However, a number of game developers and gamers remain sceptical, with the high cost of 3D-ready tellys and having to wear glasses big bugbears.

Maguire admitted Sony faces a number of challenges as it attempts to make 3D mainstream.

On shutter glasses he said: "This is by far the best way of doing it but you do need some decent kit.

"It is quite inefficient. It requires a high speed display. We've got things like 200hz TVs, which are absolutely fantastic because they're refreshing so fast it's not an issue.

"And of course cost – these glasses are around about €100 at least, so it's not cheap stuff. In terms of the barrier to entry, there is clearly a cost issue here."

Despite insisting there are no health issues associated with playing games in 3D, Maguire predicted "there will be various people questioning whether you bring it down into the younger kids area or not". Five per cent of people cannot see 3D, apparently.

But he concluded that early adopters will help get 3D off of the ground.

"The infrastructure has got really good now. It's building very quickly in TV, film and games, and also photography as well with the next cameras doing stuff in 3D.

"Is it going to be an overnight success? No it's not. It will be for the early adopters. It's expensive to get into, but I think people who have the money will make that choice to get into it. That is pretty much the key.

"We're on the start of the journey as opposed to being a fad and everybody gets out of it. It's all about content. Everyone's piling into 3D."

A number of 3D videogames are in the works, including Gran Turismo 5, Killzone 3, MotorStorm: Apocalypse and Crysis 2.

And Sony will soon release a firmware update that enables the PS3 to play 3D Blu-ray discs.