Can the Playstation 3 Push 3-D Into the Mainstream?

Something funny happened on the stage of Sony’s press conference at the Electronic Entertainment Expo this year. Kaz Hirai, Chief Executive Officer of Sony Computer Entertainment, stood on stage and proclaimed the PlayStation 3 will do for 3D what it did for Blu-ray.

Um, no.

There is a huge difference at the consumer level between Blu-ray and 3D when it comes to the PS3. Notably, anyone with a PS3 can play a Blu-ray. No, you don’t need an expensive HDTV to enjoy the format, although noting any differences between Blu-ray and DVD would be unheard of on this type of set-up.

Of course, many people do have HDTVs, an upgrade they likely made in the past few years. It took some time to make that shift into the mainstream, and we are now at the point where buying a standard definition TV at the likes of Best Buy is now rendered impossible. Many spent a few grand on their new home theater and are quite happy with that. Who could blame them?

Now, in a miniscule amount of time, people are being asked to upgrade yet again. PS3 owners were bombarded with 3D demonstrations during the show, and upgrades to certain games are available for download via the PlayStation Network for free, turning them into showcases. That’s great and all, but you are asking consumers to spend thousands of dollars more to turn over their likely new equipment into 3D-capable sets.

It’s not just the price either, which in its current state is hilariously high. Let’s move into the future a bit when those prices have come down from the ridiculous $150+ for a pair of glasses. Why even upgrade? No matter how powerful your hardware, you need to switch everything out. A lot of the movies available in 3D will be re-releases, such as the current stock of Ice Age and Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs. Not only do they expect consumers to upgrade their TVs, receivers, and buy glasses, they need to re-buy the software again too.

And this is all considering that people have only begun to make the leap to Blu-ray itself, let alone 3D Blu-ray.

Just because the PlayStation 3 supports it means little. Keep in mind, it is the only console of this generation to utilize 3D extensively. The Xbox 360 hosted the Avatar game, but that’s it for retail releases. People are even less likely to rush out and re-do their entire equipment stack because of a few games and movies playable on a single piece of hardware. Microsoft needs to embrace 3D, Netflix needs to embrace 3D, and cable/satellite companies need to embrace 3D for this format to stand a chance.

Considering the technology is hardly even proven useful in theaters yet, the PlayStation 3 isn’t about to make a dent in 3D penetration, Kaz.

Matt Paprocki is a 12-year movie and video game critic. His work has been featured on a variety of websites, and he currently edits and

  • theman

    Unless I get a coupon for a new TV,no. I don’t mind 3-D but the glasses and the price are a huge barrier to entry.

  • RaphNL

    Won’t happen.

  • Colin

    I think Nintendo’s 3DS has a much better chance of getting 3D tech into people’s homes. You don’t need a fancy TV or a pair of expensive and uncomfortable glasses, and you get a full, convincing 3D display.

    It’s a brilliant device, though one I’m not sure will drive the sale of 3D televisions either. Once you get a taste of glasses-less 3D, it seems regressive to have to put them back on.

  • The issue with the 3DS is that the tech won’t work on TVs. You need a direct line of sight for it to work. That may have had a chance of breaking into the mainstream as their main 3D device, but not with those limitations on a larger scale.

    That said, can’t wait for the 3DS.

  • Teo

    Matt are you polish?

  • Jason

    I think I’ll wait to upgrade until the day comes that we download our brains INTO these movies and games. Why not…? Let’s leave our previous mortal lives on this Earthly plane, and LIVE in pop culture indefinitely. We can try to thrive in these worlds until our credit cards have reached their maximum limits, then Hollywood and pull the plug, and only THEN may we ascend to the next Chapter or Level.

    Uhg… :P

  • @Teo: Yep. Grandparents on my dad’s side lived in Poland.

  • Ben

    Fuck 3D

  • Steve

    Kaz Hirai is certifiably insane, take anything he says with a grain of salt and back away slowly while avoiding eye contact.

    Of course 3D’s not coming to our living rooms anytime soon, but is the PS3 helping them do that? certainly. As has been pointed out, most people have bought an HDTV in the last few years and under no pressure to upgrade anytime soon.

    I believe the day when 3D gets to the level where standard Blu-Ray is by now, we won’t even need the glasses. Current set-ups are only for the ridiculously early adopters who have more money than sense. The current concept is too problematic. $150 per pair of glasses per family member, all of whom need to be sitting within the narrow sweet spot to actually get the effect. Not to mention people who need to wear spectacles.

    Truly accessible 3D televisions will probably have something like the Nintendo 3DS.