3D has a special place on our list, if not in our hearts: it’s the only trend to have been born and summarily killed in the same generation; a Rebel Without a Cause – and one too many flaws.
We’re not too far removed from 3D’s explosive revival in the film industry – the period around 2007-2009 when monolith budgets were thrown at stereoscopic feature films, which culminated when James Cameron’s Avatar went on to gross the highest box-office revenue of all time.
But unlike the relatively passive experience of watching a film, games are an exercise in constant adjustment. Indefinitely, they generate dynamic visual cues, demand a continual cognitive refocusing and reward laser-like reflexes. Simply training the brain for properly handling an analog-stick camera can take hours for someone who’s never played a game before.
So, not surprisingly, when many in the gaming industry tried to ride on the coattails of film with heavy 3D investments, it never took off. There are some breathtaking visual experiences to behold in games like Motorstorm: Pacific Rift or even Call of Duty: Black Ops, but as our Jason Weismann chronicled last year, many gamers have found that it’s not worth the eyestrain (not to mention the wallet strain for compatible tech). The industry has witnessed a drastic drawdown in 3D marketing this year, and – blame it if you must on our jaded vision after playing James Cameron’s Avatar: The Game – we don’t see a resurgence any time soon.