Sony: Motorstorm Apocalypse Will Prove 3D Gaming's Worth

It took more than 100 years for the notion of 3D film-making to prove itself with the 2009 release of smash hit Avatar, and Sony believes that games like the Playstation 3's Motorstorm Apocalypse and Killzone 3 will do the same for gaming.

Mick Hocking, senior director for Sony Computer Entertainment Europe Studio Liverpool, heads up PlayStation's worldwide studio's steroscopic 3D team, a group that's been studying the use of 3D in gaming for about two years now.

"I think 3D gaming is huge," Hocking said in an interview with Kotaku. "There are many, many benefits that 3D brings to games, but in general it enhances your sense of immersion. Your eyes pick up a lot more information that with 2D."

While most games can benefit from 3D gaming, Hocking said, sports games and racing games seem to benefit the most.

"In those you have more information to reach to, like judging the breaking point in a turn, where to overtake a care, or when to swing a bat in major league baseball," he said. "All of that is much, much more intuitive in 3D than it is in 2D."

At issue for the technology is the inherent cost of having to buy a new television that supports 3D and being forced to wear clunky, battery-powered glasses to see games in 3D.

Hocking doesn't see that as an issue though. He says that an estimated 50 percent of televisions made in 2014 are expected to have 3D built-in and that prices are expected to continue to drop for them.

Whether or not 3D gaming is inevitable, now is most certainly the best chance for the technology to succeed in gaming. But to do so developers need to prove to gamers that the cost and inconvenience of owning a 3D television and wearing 3D glasses is outweighed by the benefits of playing a game in 3D.

"I think it's crucially important that we produce high-quality 3D at this time," he said. "We're in the phase of building the market. We need to convince (gamers) to not only get the games but also to buy the 3D TVs."

That's done by not just adding depth to games, but by applying the use of depth in a meaningful way.

"If you do produce 3D games in the right way it is a stunning experience and justifies the need to put glasses on and buy that TV," he said. "If not done well it's just used to add depth, or worse, it can put people off."

"3D done right isn't just about adding depth to a scene it is a creative medium," Hocking said. "There are choices about how much depth you put into a scene depending on what you're after, whether it is to create a sense of suspense or vertigo."

Hocking pointed out that 3D has been around in cinema since the 1890s but that it took the tremendous success of 2009's Avatar by James Cameron to prove that the technology was worth the time and money to use.

"Avatar was proof that if you deliver a high-quality experience people will flock to it," he said.

So what will be the game that, like Avatar, will prove that 3D makes sense for the medium?

"My completely unbiased opinion is Motorstorm Apocalypse," Hocking said. "I think Killzone 3 has a great sense of vertigo, especially in the jetpack levels, but Motorstorm has things blowing up all around you and past you."

And Hocking is busy working with other developers to ensure that they don't just throw their games into 3D but use it more as a technique than a technology.

That includes making sure that games don't push objects so virtually far out of the screen that it strains a user's eyes, or that an image doesn't sink so far into the screen that the image appears to double.

But it also means teaching studios to look at their game design in different ways. For instance, use the amount of 3D on certain objects to help draw the focus of gamers toward or away from things.

"The teams are really coming to grips with it," he said. "These guys are really starting to understand the medium."