- It's evident people are getting tired of 3-D technology
- Nintendo will continue to offer 3-D, but it won't be a major selling point
- Box office revenue for 3-D movies fell by 18% in the U.S. in 2011
- Only 14% of consumers who might buy a TV in the next six months say 3-D is a must-have
Sunday, July 22, 2012
Has the 3-D hype bubble finally burst?
The latest bad news comes from Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who in an interview with The Independent admitted that interest in 3-D is "perhaps slightly on the wane again."
Although Nintendo will continue to offer 3-D in its handheld gaming devices, it won't be a major selling point, says Iwata:
"So, now we've created the 3DS and 3DS XL and also have some games out there that are really using that 3-D effect that we can see, from my point of view, that it's an important element. But as human beings are this kind of surprise effect wears off quickly, and just [having] this 3-D stereoscopic effect isn't going to keep people excited."
Iwata's view that 3-D is "slightly on the wane" seems like an understatement. You needn't look far for other signs that 3-D is failing.
Consider the box office. Although studios released 19 more 3-D movies in 2011 than the year before, 3-D box office revenue fell by 18% in the U.S., or about $400 million, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
Last month, 3-D attendance hit a record low for the opening weekend of Pixar's "Brave," with just 32% of revenues coming from 3-D, says the Hollywood Reporter. While "The Avengers" fared better, with a little more than half of sales coming from 3-D tickets, it's not even close to the 83% 3-D revenue that "Avatar" enjoyed in December 2009. The days where you absolutely had to see a hit movie in 3-D are over.
The 3-D TV situation isn't much better. Sales of 3-D televisions are on the rise in the U.S. according to The NPD Group, but only 14% of consumers who might buy a TV in the next six months say 3-D is a "must-have" feature.
Most people just think of it as future-proofing — something that might be nice to have. Even Samsung, the world's largest TV maker, admits that 3-D TV hasn't lived up to the hype, and the company is now exalting web-connected smart TVs as its next big source of growth.
It's easy to guess why 3-D is struggling in movies and television sets: People don't want to be burdened with 3-D glasses, or worry about eye strain, and pay a premium for the privilege.
But Nintendo's cooling attitude toward glasses-free 3-D signals a deeper problem: Even once you remove the pesky glasses, the novelty of 3-D wears off. That's a pretty staggering admission from a company that put the term "3D" in the name of its handheld.
At least with 3-D hype deflated, media and tech companies can focus on more important things. Samsung can put more effort into smart TV. Nintendo can work on adding more features and new entertainment apps to the 3DS. I know this is a stretch, but maybe Hollywood can stop putting out so many bad movies.
Those all seem like better alternatives than fooling your eyes into seeing another dimension.