Eighteen months after Avatar was released and opened a tidal wave of 3D upselling, the entertainment industry is still looking for ways to innovate and sell the average consumer on 3D technology, especially in the home. Beyond home movies and televisions, gaming is the newest frontier for entertainment companies to push 3D, and it just may be the venue that helps the 3D market take off. Our data from the Q1 2011 3D entertainment study shows gamers have a higher appetite for a broad spectrum of 3D technology and experiences. Nintendo recently took the biggest step in the industry with the release of their 3DS handheld, which debuted to overwhelmingly mediocre reception at a $250 price tag. It’s too early to label the 3DS a bust and gloss over 3D gaming, as only 7% of gamers prefer a 3D gaming experience with a handheld device. As our data shows, gamers are 3D consumers and should be the target market for seeding home 3D.
Console gaming (Xbox 360 and PS3), which 61% of gamers report their preferred 3D gaming experience to be, are significantly more likely to purchase 3D TVs than the average consumer. 23% of Xbox 360 owners and 28% of PS3 owners consider themselves very likely to purchase a 3D TV in the next year, whereas only 13% of average consumers report the same likelihood. Though the technology is limited in availability and high in cost, gamers are still showing that 3D gaming is more than a novelty. They are spending more on their hobby than ever and home entertainment companies and gaming companies will gain immeasurably by looking to this segment for clues about how to give them the 3D gaming experience they want.
3D computer monitors paired with 3D graphics cards—certainly a smaller niche but nonetheless still an important target, (only 23% of gamers were aware of 3D graphics cards)—are a requisite for 3D PC gaming or simply the 3D monitor hooked up to the console for small-screen gaming. These monitors show less purchase intent from gamers (18%) but still higher levels of interest than the average consumer. Some interest in 3D monitors may be mitigated by the need for a powerful graphics card that is 3D capable, which creates an additional barrier to entry for the 3D PC experience.
However, of all consumers, almost half of all those intending to buy a 3DTV (48%) are also very likely to purchase a 3D computer monitor, indicating desire for multi-screen 3D home entertainment and broad acceptance of the technology.
The goal needs to be convincing gamers to go “all-in” on 3D technology. Without a transcendent “must-play” title like Avatar was for movies to drive gamers, the task will be difficult. The large investments necessary from TVs to consoles to monitors and graphics cards, gamers should be the true test of the survivability of 3D. If 3D gaming can catch on, it should be a huge driver for widespread adoption and big cash flows. If not, this 3D generation may quickly be on its way out.