This is not my beautiful 3D television: How gaming will change the 3D equation

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit in the past few weeks and Adam Frucci wrote something that caught my attention, concentrating my thoughts the way a seed crystal builds boules of material in the Czochralski process.

Gaming will make or break 3D. I don’t care if James Cameron sends miniature 3D cameras into Leonardo DiCaprio’s urethra during his “king of the world” scene in the new 3D version of Titanic: there will be no compelling reason to upgrade your entire TV set-up to watch 3D movies. Why will you buy a 3D set-up? For gaming and you’ll probably buy a 3D-capable PC before you buy a 3D-capable TV.

Consider the price differential: a 3D PC kit costs about $598 without graphics card. A compatible card costs a few hundred – up to $400 for the highest-end card you can get. That’s about $1000 if you already have a nice PC and if you’re a gamer you’re probably already running a nice GeForce card.

Want to get a 3D TV? Why not pick up a Samsung 62-inch plasma for $3,400? Oh, and you’ll need a new Samsung (or Sony, if that’s the family you want to join) Blu-Ray player. Want to play a 3D console game? Don’t look to your XBox. You’d better get yourself a PS3 and then find some content.

But, if you have a PC, almost every game made in the past few years is 3D compatible.

3D games are great. I’ve been playing Burnout Paradise for the past month and messed around a little with Batman: Arkham Aslyum and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. Best of all, Civilization IV is also 3D compatible so you can see your little settlers and warriors in full 3D. Even for a crotchety old man like me it’s quite a bit of fun.

3D gaming is cheap and will encourage a new generation to accept 3D as a benefit, not a burden. The current generation – folks 25 and above – still see 3D as a gimmick. Kids will see 3D as an extension of the immersive experience gaming has offered them their entire lives.

Mark my words: the vast majority of TV viewers will never have a 3D TV in their home. Maybe some die-hards will buy a few pairs of glasses to watch the Super Bowl in 2015 but you and yours will probably never find any good reason to go 3D. However, if you’re a gamer you owe it to yourself to try a 3D set-up and perhaps upgrade. It’s a lot of fun.

So sorry, everyone. The 3D TV party is over. 3D TV is, in short, the Laserdisc of this era and what comes next – the perfection glasses-free 3D television displays. The current crop of 3D TV is an interstitial technology aimed at grabbing a few upgrade dollars. If TV manufacturers really cared about selling a whole new crop of TVs, they’d try much harder to convince the world that it needs what they’re selling.