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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Money & Business

Guru Careers: Tax Manager / Accountant

£35 - £50k DOE: Guru Careers: A Tax Manager / Accountant (ACA / CA / CTA) is n...

Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - City of London

£35000 - £37000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Contracts Executive - Cit...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + OTE £45K: SThree: SThree Group have been well esta...

Recruitment Genius: Call Centre Debt Collector - Multiple Roles

£21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join ...

Day In a Page

Turkey-Kurdish conflict: Obama's deal with Ankara is a betrayal of Syrian Kurds and may not even weaken Isis

US betrayal of old ally brings limited reward

Since the accord, the Turks have only waged war on Kurds while no US bomber has used Incirlik airbase, says Patrick Cockburn
VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but doubts linger over security

'A gift from Egypt to the rest of the world'

VIPs gather for opening of second Suez Canal - but is it really needed?
Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Jeremy Corbyn dresses abysmally. That's a great thing because it's genuine

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, applauds a man who clearly has more important things on his mind
The male menopause and intimations of mortality

Aches, pains and an inkling of mortality

So the male menopause is real, they say, but what would the Victorians, 'old' at 30, think of that, asks DJ Taylor
Man Booker Prize 2015: Anna Smaill - How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?

'How can I possibly be on the list with these writers I have idolised?'

Man Booker Prize nominee Anna Smaill on the rise of Kiwi lit
Bettany Hughes interview: The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems

Bettany Hughes interview

The historian on how Socrates would have solved Greece's problems
Art of the state: Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China

Art of the state

Pyongyang propaganda posters to be exhibited in China
Mildreds and Vanilla Black have given vegetarian food a makeover in new cookbooks

Vegetarian food gets a makeover

Long-time vegetarian Holly Williams tries to recreate some of the inventive recipes in Mildreds and Vanilla Black's new cookbooks
The haunting of Shirley Jackson: Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?

The haunting of Shirley Jackson

Was the gothic author's life really as bleak as her fiction?
Bill Granger recipes: Heading off on holiday? Try out our chef's seaside-inspired dishes...

Bill Granger's seaside-inspired recipes

These dishes are so easy to make, our chef is almost embarrassed to call them recipes
Ashes 2015: Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

Tourists are limp, leaderless and distinctly UnAustralian

A woefully out-of-form Michael Clarke embodies his team's fragile Ashes campaign, says Michael Calvin
Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza

Andrew Grice: Inside Westminster

Blairites be warned, this could be the moment Labour turns into Syriza
HMS Victory: The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

The mystery of Britain's worst naval disaster is finally solved - 271 years later

Exclusive: David Keys reveals the research that finally explains why HMS Victory went down with the loss of 1,100 lives
Survivors of the Nagasaki atomic bomb attack: Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism

'I saw people so injured you couldn't tell if they were dead or alive'

Nagasaki survivors on why Japan must not abandon its post-war pacifism
Jon Stewart: The voice of Democrats who felt Obama had failed to deliver on his 'Yes We Can' slogan, and the voter he tried hardest to keep onside

The voter Obama tried hardest to keep onside

Outgoing The Daily Show host, Jon Stewart, became the voice of Democrats who felt the President had failed to deliver on his ‘Yes We Can’ slogan. Tim Walker charts the ups and downs of their 10-year relationship on screen