May 28, 2012
The release of Super Hang-On, a Sega classic game now available on PSN, brings the total number of stereoscopic 3D games available for the PS3 to 100. It seems like not long ago that Sony announced 3D support for the PS3, so it comes as a surprise that it has taken almost 2 years to acheive this milestone.
As you can see from the complete PS3 3D games list there are games in almost every genre, and the majority of the games are 3D console exclusive to the PS3.
PS3 3D Games By Quarter: Q2 2010 to Q2 2012
The spread of 3D games has been reasonably consistent and there is a steady, but limited, line-up between now and the end of 2012 with 6 expected next month and a futher 10 or so have been announced for release by the end of the year.
A Brief History of 3D on the PS3
On June 10, 2010 Sony released PS3 system update 3.30 that added native HDMI 1.4-like stereoscopic 3D for 3DTV’s with support for both 720p and 1080p 3D. This was acheived by re-programming the HDMI controllers found in the various models of the PS3 released since launch and adding system API’s for detection of 3D displays and stereoscopic frame-buffer support. End-user display configuration settings for 3DTV’s were also added. Later that year in September 2010 update 3.50 was released, adding 3D Blu-ray support. Thanks to the initial over-engineering of the PS3 every PS3 console now has the potential to play 3D games, 3D media and 3D Blu-rays.
While there are many stunning 3D games to be found there are just as many failures. It’s a shame that the 100th game, Super Hang-On, is the very worst. With the PS3 supporting 3D at 1080p, how many of the 100 3D games support it? None it turns out. While is it possible to use 1080p at 30Hz using HDMI most 3DTV’s only support 24Hz, a refresh rate that is considered too slow for most games.
To date 1080p 3D is limited to Blu-ray blayback and the free PlayMemories 3D photo viewer app and its more featured pay-for sibling PlayMemories Studio. This also fits with the technical limitations that make implementing stereoscopic 3D a challenge in many games even at 720p.
So how does the Xbox 360 compare?
Microsoft was fairly late to provide native 3D support on the Xbox 360, stating in early 2011 that they were taking a wait and see approach and would not add 3D support to the Xbox 360 for at least a year. Thankfully they delivered a dashboard update in November 2011 to add support for 3DTV’s.
Many, including us, were not confident that the 360 could be re-programmed to support HDMI 1.4-like 3D but it turns out that this was in fact possible with the HANA HDMI controller found on the Xbox 360’s that include HDMI output. At present only 720p 3D is supported. There is still doubt that 1080p 3D would be possible due to the limited amount of video RAM on the 360 and without a Blu-ray drive its use would be limited in any case.
Looking at the complete Xbox 360 3D games list we can see that to date 41 3D games have been released, with around a quarter of them console 3D exclusive to the Xbox 360.
Unfortunately the vast majority of the 3D games on the 360 employ one of the half-resolution 3D modes such as side-by-side and top-and-bottom, the only way to achieve stereoscopic 3D on 3DTV’s until the late arrival of native 3D support in the dashboard.
Given the fact that several games would need to output sub-720p resolution in 3D, like several do on the PS3 due to technical limitations or optimization requirements, this is not a total loss but still a minor inconvenience having to manually select the appropriate 3D mode using the TV remote. Games that only support the side-by-side mode are at a double disadvantage on passive 3DTV’s due to the half vertical resolution used on these displays.
What’s also immediately apparent from the list is the lack of upcoming 3D games that have been announced, just 2 currently known. Watch out for our announcement when the Xbox 360 hits 50 3D games available.
The PS3 is still the system to own if you have a 3DTV.
Look for our upcoming article listing the best and worst 3D games.