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Sony's Ray Maguire

The UK boss talks 3D and E3.

With E3 just days away, you'd think Sony would be busy finishing all those conference trailers and working out how many HD tellies you can fit in a suitcase without exceeding BA's baggage limit. However, the platform holder still found time to hold a special event in London today to show off its new 3D technology.

There wasn't much in the way of games to be seen - the event was more about movies and music, and Sony Computer Entertainment is most likely saving its surprises for next week. But SCE UK managing director Ray Maguire was in attendance, and he sat down with Eurogamer for a chat about why 3D is the future.

EurogamerWhy have all the various bits of the Sony business come together today? What message are you trying to get across?
Ray Maguire

That basically, the world's gone 3D. From a gaming perspective, you start off with the fact that a healthy individual has got two eyes and sees in 3D. Yet since the TV was invented we've been looking in 2D, which is actually an unnatural state. So games have been created in an unnatural state, because the medium could only display that.

The reason 3D can now happen is that the processing power of PS3 is sufficient to do a good job. We have to start doing twice the amount of work because we're basically replicating the eyes, looking at the scene from left and right, and all of that's got to be calculated for the screen. But we can do it. We were really waiting for 3D TVs to be able to display the product we've been able to make since we first launched PlayStation 3.

It's a very encouraging time for us because there are issues around bringing film to life - you have to do some quite technical stuff to make it look and feel right. But we create everything from scratch and build 3D models. We can decide the camera angles reasonably easily. So for us, there's more potential from the gaming side, in terms of getting the depth and quantity of product out there, than there is for people who have to start authoring again with 3D cameras.

It's probably an easier route for the gaming side of Sony than some of the other divisions. But the intent within Sony is that all divisions work as a truly united Sony, and that we are the leaders in 3D.

EurogamerBut I noticed that during the press conference this morning, a chap from Sony Pictures gave a presentation, as did someone from the music division and the electronics division... But no one from the games division spoke. Why was that?
Ray Maguire

Simply because it's this kind of interview which goes into depth. If I'd stood up there and gone through how people's vision works and things like that, people would probably have lost the will to live...

The gaming market will understand exactly what potential this gives us. If you're in a free world, walking around people in 3D, exploring stuff in 3D... Can you imagine Final Fantasy in 3D? The potential is just enormous. We've started with some simple 3D renditions of 2D games, but start with 3D in mind and the world is completely open in terms of possibilities.

EurogamerIs Final Fantasy 3D something which is being worked on at the moment?
Ray Maguire

I wouldn't know, that's something you'd have to ask [Square Enix]...

EurogamerBut presumably, as one of the people in charge of Sony's business, that's the kind of thing you'd like to see?
Ray Maguire

Yes. That's why Gran Turismo, one of our biggest franchises ever, has got a 3D element.

EurogamerIs the time it's taken to include the 3D element to blame for the game's delayed release?
Ray Maguire

No. The delay - if there is a delay, because I think Kazunori would say it's ready when it's ready - is down to the fact he's a perfectionist. He wants the very best for it. There needs to be a step-change and there is a step-change. But, you know, more of that at E3.

EurogamerHave you played Gran Turismo in 3D?
Ray Maguire

No. I've seen a very short demo of it and there's a really strange thing that happens... When you're driving a real car, half of your experience is actually the peripheral vision; you know when something's going to jump out from the side, whether it's a dog or a kid or an ice cream van. I always found it much more difficult to drive in the [virtual] car than to be looking from behind the car. Because it was in 2D you required a little more draw distance, if you like, to get a real handle on what you were doing.

That's not true when you play in 3D. Suddenly you've got this perspective, and it just makes the whole thing a lot more like the real experience of driving in your car.