The growing consumption of digital content has propelled a new economic trend in the entertainment industry. The average Joe living in a developed economy will spend the majority of the day in front of the computer, television, or other digital display. Increase in accessibility and proliferation of digital media has created strong consumer demands for quality entertainment, which in turn, has skyrocketed production costs for all media content from games to movies. Large production costs put a pressure on profitability, but one major area of innovation that is generating better margins for the entertainment industry is 3D imaging.
This new wave of 3D imaging technology adds another dimension of value to future digital media because consumers are willing to pay more for an enhanced experience, yet the technology curbs production costs for manufacturers and publishers.
156 million people have smartphones, and 184 million laptops were shipped in 2008. Consumers’ digital media obsession now drives the innovative development of software and hardware that create increasingly immersive entertainment and digital media experiences.
The large amount of investment required to offer more engaging 2D entertainment experiences is putting profitability under pressure. The total production cost for Grand Theft Auto IV was $100,000,000 – currently the biggest budget spent on any video game. The majority of production costs for 2D games were allocated by manufactures and publishers for creating more sophisticated graphic interfaces and higher resolution content. However, 3D imaging works on relatively simple technologies and do not require as extensive of production budgets, provided that the display screen’s image refresh rate is high.
For example, NVIDIA, in partnership with Samsung, now offers the GeForce 3D vision system for gaming applications. The system requires a minimum of 120Hz and shutter glasses in order to reconstruct the illusion of real 3D images, which are created by playing two different images, each representing the two perspectives of the same object to each eye. Though normal 2D screens project frames six times slower than 3D films, the GeForce system plays the two-scene views, called “right eye” and left eye,” three times every 1/24 of a second. The result is 3D flicker-free images created by the eye’s natural persistence of vision.
These innovations in imaging technology create augmented realities that link images and real objects, and add the perception of interaction for viewers, and consumers are willing to pay more to experience this novel form of digital media. For instance, IMAX movies are priced five dollars above the average price of a standard 2D theater admission.
Companies like amBX UK Ltd, a technology licensing business, are creating elaborate, “sensory surround” entertainment with modest technologies that enable content creators to add real world effects using light, color, rumble and air flow, through licensed amBX devices. These innovative but relatively inexpensive additions to digital media revalues entertainment experiences and allows producers to maintain lower production cost while driving higher revenues.
Consumers are demanding increasingly immersive entertainment. What will the introduction of 3D imaging mean for gaming? Will these emerging technologies create new experiences so gamers can feel like they are walking through the battle fields of Modern Warfare 2? As companies such as amBX and NVIDIA continue to develop hardware that brings 3D gaming to the living room, the future for console gaming looks bright as long as publishers continue to put premium prices on the technologies. If this trend continues, the gaming industry will have no problem retaining its position as the highest grossing entertainment industry in the world.