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3D: Sony vs. Microsoft

Microsoft’s Xbox marketing boss Albert Penello made several comments on 3D, and is wrong on two points:

“We have 3D games – obviously the Avatar game came out last year – and the console fully supports 3D”

He is part right and part wrong on this. 3D games like Avatar require HDMI (see here, here, and here), so it does work on newer 360 units, but it will not work on older models without an HDMI connection, and those units can not be upgraded to be 3D ready. The 360 launched in November 2005 without HDMI, and it wasn’t until the high end elite model launched on April 29, 2007, that HDMI was an option, and it wasn’t until the Fall of 2007, when HDMI was available on the lower end 360 SKUs.

When you consider this for a moment, 360 can only support 3D on part of their user base, while PS3 can support 3D effects on every PS3, you can imagine why Sony is touting this so loudly, and why Microsoft is downplaying it and dragging their feet. Of course, Sony has the additional incentive of being in the consumer electronics business and selling more HDTVs and home theater gear.

The second place Microsoft is wrong, is that Penello implies that consumers are undecided and haven’t voted whether they care about 3D or not:

“I think that when we decide we want to jump into 3D it’ll be because the consumer’s voted. But from a technical side, there’s nothing about it we can’t do.”

This is clearly not true. As an anonymous studio chief said:

“You can make so much more money with 3-D that it essentially puts a tax on 2-D dramas, romantic comedies and other projects, since they just won’t project the same kind of box-office potential.”

Movie ticket sales data is quite clear and the guys in charge of the theaters and the movie business are fully convinced. The movie going masses from around the globe have voted with their wallets in large numbers that they want 3D and are willing to pay premiums and drive to a different movie theater to get it.

Admittedly, movie theater demand doesn’t translate perfectly to the home theater market, but it’s safe to say that there is a lot more consumer demonstrated demand for 3D than for motion control. The Wii was a huge success, but that involved many factors beyond the controller, as can be seen with the similar success of the DS.

EDIT: Toned down a little bit. Took at inference regarding other tech journalists.