Increasingly in the world of entertainment, 3D is everywhere. What used to show up as a gimmick to sell tickets to an otherwise terrible movie is now included in nearly half of the Hollywood releases this summer. E3 this year featured Nintendo and Sony both revealing 3D-based systems. 3D TV’s are now on sale at Best Buy. It’s getting easier and easier to get content in 3D. The question: is it really worth it? or is 3D just a gimmick to sell overpriced hardware?

At this point, 3D is still pretty expensive. A $2000 TV, plus $200 apiece for dorky looking glasses to use with a PS3? That’s a lot of money. While the 3DS price hasn’t been officially announced, it’s probably going to be pretty expensive as well. The 3D experience is definitely going to cost you.

Money is not the only factor in 3D gaming, however. Perhaps even a greater price is paid in the performance of the game. Games now have to render literally twice as much just to achieve the same level of detail in 3D; and many just can’t do it. On the HD side, a game that looks great in 1080p in 2D might have to be scaled back to 720p in 3D, and even then there will probably be some slowdown since the game has to render twice as much twice as fast. On the handheld side, Nintendo’s 3DS could easily use much higher resolution textures, more detailed geometry, and achieve better resolution and framerate if developers used that extra power for standard 2D games. It would definitely be a risk not using one of the core selling features of the 3DS, but developers could make a better game. Something for developers for the upcoming system to think about.

[Image by Mike Mitchell]