Thursday, August 29, 2013

Nintendo puts a nail in the coffin of 3D

3D, or not 3D? That is the question... Well I guess not. Nintendo has announced the next iteration of the 3DS and it is... well, without the 3D feature. They say so that they can market better to the under 7 kids crowd, but I suspect they are quietly backing away from 3D, though I don't understand why as Nintendo 3DS has been a smash success despite all the 3D Hatrz.

When 3D first came around I was dismissive of it. Everyone was telling me to go see Avatar because it’s 3D was said to be so fantastic. I didn’t because I never could see the illusion with the red/cyan glasses. I had assumed I was one of those who wouldn’t be able to see the illusion. Eventually my wife, a 3D fanatic, convinced me to go see Clash of the Titans in 3D… Bad idea. Then she wanted to see The Last Airbender in 3D… even worse. I had ruled out 3D as viable, dismissed it as a gimmick. Still, one more movie, she said, give it one more try… Toy Story 3. It worked! I could see the illusion! I was drawn into the adorable Disney movie like I had never been drawn into a film before! Sure, there wasn’t much pop out, but I felt as if there was only a window separating me from the world of Toy Story. Then we went and saw it’s predecessors, lovingly converted to 3D, Voyage of the Dawn Treader, Thor, Captain America, Avengers…

   Over the course of this time I had bought a 3DS, and it was there I saw the real power of 3D. Movies were great, but video games were brought to life like never before. Soon after I had to have a 3D TV. We bought a Vizio, but it wasn’t big enough so we bought an LG, neither one cost more than $700 by the way, the larger of the two being 55”. When 3D works, it’s wonderful.

   Nintendo has also fashioned a number of games that really make great use of the effect, lasers and monsters pop right off the screen at you in Kid Icarus, Mario has to solve dimensionally sensitive labyrinths that would be frustrating as hell in 2D, Link will have to make use of depth to solve puzzles in the upcoming A Link Between Worlds. But on the Xbox 360 I got to experience Halo in a way I never had before, aiming in 3D presents a new level of accuracy, I was finally hitting my damn target! Call of Duty Black Ops on PS3 delighted me when the villain put his face directly in mine at the end of the first level to taunt me, well, he wasn’t actually there, but the way he came off the screen with such menace… It elevated the experience in a way that playing it in 2D just couldn’t.

   Sony then upped the anti by allowing for re-releases of some older games in HD and 3D. There is nothing like the sense of vertigo staring down the back of the colossi in Shadow of the Colossus, and Prince of Persia? Suddenly I could obviously tell which jumps would be fatal. No longer would it be leap, pray to God you make it, die, rewind, repeat. In 3D, I could approach the edge of a cliff and not only know I can’t make the jump, but clearly see the climbable protrusions that will get me around the chasm.  As you can tell, 3D has totally changed gaming for me, which is why I was so disheartened to see Sony back away from it, and now Nintendo seems to be with the 2DS…

   There’s a lot that went wrong in the marketing of 3D. Clash of the Titans was a massive blow to the format, and it was, sadly, one of many that did a quick, cheap conversion hoping to cash in on the latest trend. There have been few who would stick their necks out risking the ire of the Hatrz to defend the format like James Cameron has, and I tend to agree with him, I think 3D will be the dominant format someday. People doubted sound, they doubted color, but whereas those technologies persevered the Hatrz have done such a great job an their anti-marketing campaign that, combined with the early blunders of the market, it will take a re-launch of the technology to change the format's fortunes. I had been counting on Nintendo to be there when that re-launch comes. I had the guy behind the counter at Gamestop lament, “you know, if they had done 3D as well when they introduced it as they’re doing it now, it’d have been a hit.” (I was whining that the feature was pulled from Tales of Xillia.) Maybe he’s right, but the 3DS is doing strong numbers, so I am not sure I understand fully why the 2DS is needed now, especially when perceptions are everything in marketing. What is Nintendo really saying about 3D, let alone the 3DS? Are they admitting defeat amongst strong sales? Are they doing what Sony has done with the PS3/4 and  abandoning the fans who, despite their hesitation, went along for the ride and tried something new? Those who invested their hard earned dollars in a new technology when everyone else was calling it a headache enduing gimmick?
   What is needed is for those industrialists who, along with my wife, worked so hard to convince me that I HAD to have all these 3D gizmos to stand behind their products. Sure, include the option for 2D for the Hatrz, but don’t abandon me and other 3D adaptors, or punish us for believing in you. We all have friends, we all have family. Seldom does a movie night in my family go by without the use of 3D glasses somewhere in the home, and the kids in the family are 3D enthusiasts ever if ever saw them.

   I just wish that instead of quietly backing away from 3D the mega studios (I’m looking at you Sony) would respect those who did go on this adventure with them enough to not give up on us. We may only be a niche market, but we still exist, and if Nintendo and everyone else would just continue to include the option, that market will grow. After all, there was a time when the only folks who bought Blu Rays were people who owned a PS3, it took time for that market to expand… Yet Sony stuck it out for that technology.
   It’s not all bad on the 3D front either, despite the fact that 3DTVs have not done huge numbers, 3D Blu Rays sell rather well, Dredd 3D was January 2013’s biggest Blu Ray title and why do you suppose that is? Well, because most folks are probably like my friends and family, they plan to upgrade later when prices come down, and as many passive 3D TVs have hit the clearance racks a rather sizable number of my friends have. True that 3D isn’t the must have feature, but many people still think it’s a feature that’s nice to have, and on the day they can have it without feeling like they have to pay extra for it 3D will dominate. Like with sound, like with color, the support will come, it is a seed that just needs water. Water the plant, even though the Hatrz are begging for you to kill it, I am begging for you to water it instead. It will grow with time.

   In the meantime the Hatrz can complain all they want about having to wear a ten ounce pair of plastic glasses, at they same time they hypocritically cannot wait for the 20 lbs behemoth Oculus Rift. I find that funny, but will probably stand in line when Oculus Rift becomes available at a mass market price, hoping I can get my 3D fix somehow…

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