I get asked a lot about why MTBS will fight for some things and not for others, and I’d like to share my thoughts as to why we do the things we do.
Call it what you will: an enthusiasm for stereoscopic 3D gaming, a driver for superior game immersion, or a fight to get the compatibility we want out of our premium gaming systems. We are all working to make stereoscopic 3D a mass market success. That is the vision I have for our industry, and this is the shared goal that will make our growing membership happy.
What are the barriers in accomplishing this goal?
Barrier number one are the misleading myths that prevent and discourage traditional 2D gamers from enjoying the benefits of exciting S-3D gaming. Examples include impressions that S-3D equals out of date red/blue glasses, and reviewers that don’t understand the products they review when they go to print, etc. The PR war is battle number one.
Barrier number two is the business case for stereoscopic 3D. In 2007, the video game industry made over eighteen billion dollars. Are they making too much money to be motivated to steer a few degrees left of center? Even among our ranks, we still falsely talk about S-3D as a “niche technology” among gamers – how can we get around this?
Barrier number three is a mentality problem - the willingness to make ourselves dependent on others in hopes that this will somehow propel us forward.
The PR war is easy enough to solve if our members and industry partners back us up. The MTBS site has already been upgraded and we now have the means to put S-3D consumer guides online. I’d like to see reviewers encouraged to visit MTBS before putting pen to paper so they can properly understand how to use the S-3D technology before publicly evaluating it for our critical markets.
When readers see S-3D myths posted on popular websites, we should have a space here to quickly link to so these urban legends don’t cause needless harm.
I think we are making great progress with the game developers. Electronic Arts Korea will be making a second appearance on MTBS, multiple game engines are working to implement native S-3D support, and leading game developers are starting to send us game review samples so we can spread the word of how well their games perform in stereoscopic 3D.
We are just getting started with overcoming the game developer challenge, but there is some new hope on the horizon too. According to the latest NPD report, 72% of the US population played video games in 2007 – up from 64% the year before. 42% of the entire US population plays their games online.
Are you ready for the best part? 90% of the gamers who play online do so with their PC – the core market our stereoscopic 3D industry is dependent on, and the exact gaming environment that is conducive to needing superior game immersion and visual beauty.
The last challenge, the “dependency mentality” problem, is the worst barrier of them all. This is the barrier that causes the most harm, creates the most havoc, and whose repercussions are most memorable. Let me explain.
For those unfamiliar, for the past decade, NVIDIA was the core supplier of stereoscopic 3D drivers - the technology used by NVIDIA GPU customers to play their favorite games in S-3D. This was the software solution that got me hooked on S-3D and gave me the motivation to found MTBS so consumers can get the best stereoscopic 3D gaming experience possible.
Two things happened in the past year that reshaped the S-3D marketplace as we knew it. Last summer, iZ3D announced stereoscopic 3D drivers that work on both ATI and NVIDIA solutions – an industry first. Recently, they also announced a more non-proprietary direction and will support additional solutions in the market via a pay per customer subscription model.
Meanwhile, NVIDIA cut support for all the solutions in their drivers in favor of the products who have a formal licensing agreement with them. At this time, Zalman is their first customer and they expect more to follow.
Between iZ3D and NVIDIA, a market of S-3D refugees was formed that is filled with stereoscopic 3D solutions that never really took off, but are important to end customers nonetheless. CRT monitors or DLP projectors with shutter glasses are a good example.
The community’s kneejerk reaction was to launch threads attacking NVIDIA or literally begging for continued S-3D support. This was completely understandable as no one anticipated NVIDIA’s stance.
For myself, I learned that the way mtbs3D.com looks directly impacts how people think about our efforts, our community, and our industry. My only regret is not being able to take advantage of this lesson sooner rather than later, so I hope our recent site upgrade is a reflection of that.
From a community point of view, our image is equally critical, and this is where my concerns lay because how we conduct ourselves determines how the demand for stereoscopic 3D is perceived. Let me explain through example:
Some of our members have initiated petitions for NVIDIA to reinstate full S-3D support in their drivers for obsolete technologies like LCD shutter glasses with CRT monitors. It is a positive goal and very few people have the guts to move ahead with ideas like that. Unfortunately, the petition wasn’t as successful as it could have been because it was geared toward the smallest market in the gaming community.
More than that, when a petition doesn’t work out, it reflects on the rest of the industry and puts out a false image about the direction our industry is headed.
S-3D petitions need to appeal to tens of thousands of people in and outside the stereoscopic 3D community, not a few hundred enthusiasts. There are five to seven million PC gamers out there who could really get thrilled by this technology – how can a petition capture THEIR interest? That’s the image we need to be after because that’s the market we are after.
The message associated with petitions like this is that S-3D is somehow dependent on companies like NVIDIA for the future of S-3D, and this is completely false. Let me remind you of some facts:
1. “Meant to be Seen” has become the largest S-3D community in the world. This is 100% thanks to the input from our members.
2. Game engine developers (to be announced) are starting to implement native S-3D support without the need for drivers. Thanks to the demand demonstrated by our members, this was made possible.
3. Game developers are sending MTBS review sample games so we can inform you about their performance and expectations in S-3D.
4. MTBS has had three major upgrades since its conception less than two years ago, and this is all because of our members’ suggestions, input, and ideas.
5. We know where the industry is headed. 3D monitors for under $700 US, 3D HDTV solutions in the living room, high resolution head mounted displays at affordable prices, and still more solutions coming to market.
6. We have the benefit of Hollywood adopting stereoscopic 3D in a big way, so there is a golden opportunity to spread the word of S-3D gaming if handled properly.
7. There are no less than three different S-3D driver solutions on the market.
8. With the assistance of Sharky and several valued members, we launched a Massively Multiplayer Online Game – how many websites can do that?!? With your assistance, we can use this as a tool to attract more 2D gamers to the S-3D world we all belong in.
NVIDIA was an important spark that helped launch the ability to have stereoscopic 3D gaming, and we would like NVIDIA to be an industry partner and be more officially involved with MTBS because every strategic partner counts. This is a positive message worth conveying.
However, our success is not dependent on NVIDIA’s direct participation. Since the concept of MTBS was proposed nearly two years ago, it is only now that NVIDIA has made their first evolutionary driver release.
The fact is you represent 100% of the influence in our industry. MTBS may be the catalyst, but you are the power, you are the drive, and you are the proof of concept that S-3D is a technology worth fighting for.
Next time we write up a petition or choose a battle to fight, it is imperative that we work from strength and not from weakness. We ask for something that would be of interest to millions of gamers, not hundreds – and most importantly, we think of where we are going and not just where we came from. Our future is much more interesting than our past, and I want the future. To get that future, we need to appeal to the power of 3.
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