Microsoft takes gaming battle 3D with upgrade to Xbox 360

Video game companies have taken their fierce battle for customers into the realms of the third dimension, with Microsoft challenging Sony head-on by upgrading its Xbox 360 console to support 3D games.

The US technology giant revealed yesterday that it had signed a strategic partnership with the electronics company LG, as it prepares to bring 3D gaming to the Xbox 360.

The memorandum of understanding seems to involve a marketing deal to sell the South Korean group's 3D televisions alongside Xbox 360s that have been upgraded to support 3D gaming. Gamers in the UK will have to control their excitement for now, as plans seem to be limited to the Asian market at the moment. Yet experts believe the rise of 3D in other formats makes the format's expansion more likely. The move follows recent announcements by Sony, which has upgraded its PlayStation 3 console to support 3D, and Nintendo, which is planning to release a 3D version of its popular DS handheld.

Piers Harding-Rolls, an analyst at Screen Digest, said: "Microsoft had been concentrating on its motion-control releases this year, but they are aware Sony has gone into 3D not just in games, but across the whole group. This is its competitive response."

Sony announced in April that it had released an upgrade of the machine's "firmware" which users could download via the internet to tweak its operating system so it can support 3D games when they become available.

It was unclear from yesterday's statement whether gamers would have to buy a new Xbox or whether they would be able to follow PlayStation users and simply download additional firmware.

"The big question is what technology is needed to deliver 3D in the home, and whether consumers are ready to spend on new television sets and glasses," Mr Harding-Rolls continued.

Sony said that the move towards 3D had been driven by cinema and television's move into the area, "and the Avatar effect cannot be underestimated". James Cameron's special-effects blockbuster smashed box office records when it was released last year, prompting a rise in 3D cinema releases and plans to bring the technology into the home.

Gaming in 3D is in its infancy. Sony has several games in development and testing, ready for launch when customers begin buying 3D televisions. The company said: "We're excited about it, but we are treading quite carefully."

Super Stardust in 3D is "demoing internally", Sony said, adding: "The gameplay really benefits. You can see it in racing games. Petrolheads want to be behind the wheel. In D you don't get that sense of depth; 3D brings the experience to life."

He added: "Many games are designed with 3D landscapes; [it's] just [that] so far, they haven't been designed to be watched in 3D." Other games set to be released include Wipeout and MotorStorm.

Nintendo said in March it was to launch the 3DS before the end of March next year. The 3D version of its top-selling handheld device will not need glasses, the company said. Details, however, remain sketchy. Nintendo has remained quiet over whether the Wii will be updated to become 3D-capable. Mr Harding-Rolls said: "Gaming will be one of the key drivers for getting 3D into the home. It is just not there yet."

Microsoft is preparing to release the Natal motion-sensing kit in the UK in October. The gear will be officially launched at the E3 Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles next month. Sony also has a rival motion-sensor product in the pipeline.

"There will be lots of news at E3," Mr Harding-Rolls said. "I don't think 3D is as important to Natal. That's the big hope as it gets into areas currently dominated by the Wii."

The race for 3D gaming

* Microsoft has been concentrating heavily on taking the fight to Nintendo's extraordinarily successful Wii console, whose motion-sensor-based games have encouraged a whole new group of players into the market. This culminates in the launch of Project Natal at the E3 expo next month. Yet the group clearly believes it needs to offer an alternative to Sony, and yesterday news from South Korea emerged that the Xbox 360 will support 3D games.

* Nintendo surprised the gaming market in March by revealing that it was developing a hand-held device that could support 3D gaming. Even better, it said, the new technology will not need the silly glasses. "The hand-held needed to be energised," Screen Digest analyst Piers Harding-Rolls said, and Nintendo believes taking it 3D is the way forward. More details are expected at E3.

* Sony stole a march on its rivals last month. It released firmware that allowed PlayStation3 owners to upgrade their machines to support 3D gaming. While there is little content and few consumers have 3D televisions, the company is betting on the popularity of gaming in the format to soar. It is also preparing to release motion-sensor gaming.

News
people
Sport
FootballGerman sparks three goals in four minutes at favourite No 10 role
News
Rumer was diagnosed with bipolarity, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder: 'I was convinced it was a misdiagnosis'
peopleHer debut album caused her post-traumatic stress - how will she cope as she releases her third record?
Sport
A long jumper competes in the 80-to-84-year-old age division at the 2007 World Masters Championships
athletics
PROMOTED VIDEO
Sport
Radamel Falcao was forced to withdraw from the World Cup after undergoing surgery
premier leagueExclusive: Reds have agreement with Monaco
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvHe is only remaining member of original cast
Life and Style
Walking tall: unlike some, Donatella Versace showed a strong and vibrant collection
fashionAlexander Fury on the staid Italian clothing industry
Arts and Entertainment
Gregory Porter learnt about his father’s voice at his funeral
music
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
tvHighs and lows of the cast's careers since 2004
Life and Style
Children at the Leytonstone branch of the Homeless Children's Aid and Adoption Society tuck into their harvest festival gifts, in October 1936
food + drinkThe harvest festival is back, but forget cans of tuna and packets of instant mash
Sport
Lewis Hamilton will start the Singapore Grand Prix from pole, with Nico Rosberg second and Daniel Ricciardo third
F1... for floodlit Singapore Grand Prix
New Articles
i100
Life and Style
Couples have been having sex less in 2014, according to a new survey
life
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Senior BA - Motor and Home Insurance

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: **URGENT CONTRACT ROLE**...

Market Risk & Control Manager

Up to £100k or £450p/d: Saxton Leigh: My client is a leading commodities tradi...

SQL Developer - Watford/NW London - £320 - £330 p/d - 6 months

£320 - £330 per day: Ashdown Group: The Ashdown Group have been engaged by a l...

Head of Audit

To £75,000 + Pension + Benefits + Bonus: Saxton Leigh: My client is looking f...

Day In a Page

Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam