There’s been a lot of speculation that 3D gaming will be the new wave of the future, but for now it comes at a cost. Sony’s newest firmware release (3.30) has prepped the system for 3D gaming on compatible 3D TV sets, but the first round of games have yet to release. Eurogamer had a chance to get an inside peek at upcoming 3D PSN titles like WipeOut HD, PAIN, and SuperStardust HD— but in the process they uncovered something that might make some gamers cringe: lower graphic fidelity will be required to make these games run in 3D.
What does this mean for the average gamer? Well, for the most part it won’t make a huge difference. WipeOut HD runs normally in full 1080p, but the 3D version will only run at 720p. Why the downgrade? It’s a matter of processing the two different interlaced images required for each eye to interpret a 3D image. Rather than render one 1080p frame at 60Hz, the PS3 will generate two 720p images at 30Hz. Eurogamer asked Simon Benson, a Senior Development Manager at SCEA, about the drop in fidelity:
The advantage there is that that’s less than 1080p, so we’re all right there pixel-count wise: we’ve got some to spare, we’re asking less in terms of pixel processing. But we were fairly geometry bound on WipEout HD. Because it was 60Hz we could just drop to 30Hz and in actual fact, that was it. There was no more work to do. That worked. It took very little time getting the game into 3D; there were very few problems with WipEout.
So then, for a high framerate, 1080p game like WipeOut, there seems to be some wiggle room with HD rendering… but other games will not be so lucky. Kotaku notes that a single-level demo of MotorStorm: Pacific Rift will soon be available in 3D, but it will actually have to run at sub-HD resolution since it originally maxed out at 720p. On the bright side, all of these games are 3D retrofits of existing titles. There’s a strong chance that future games, developed with 3D in mind, will be able to overcome the necessary graphics downgrade somehow. In the meantime, just be happy that you now have an even more immersive option when it comes to playing these games. I have had the chance to see 3D versions of both WipeOut and MotorStorm in action, and I can tell you they both look really damn cool.