Handheld 3D gaming was supposed to be entertainment’s great white hope in 2011. Instead, the Nintendo 3DS has proved to be a damp squib and LG’s Optimus 3D has hardly set the world alight with its stunning three-dimensional multimedia prowess.
But not to be put off, the Korean tech titan has decided to release a new 3D game conversion engine for its flagship smartphone, in an effort to reinvigorate the phone’s 3D credentials. LG reckons this a big deal, its head of mobile, Dr Jong-seok Park, claiming, “Our Game Converter is a major breakthrough for this industry. Mobile gaming is a huge trend on the cusp of massive growth and LG is determined to be the de facto leader in this space."
Perhaps someone needs to tell him that mobile gaming isn’t on the cusp of massive growth: it’s already crossed over into the mainstream. This 3D conversion engine is not a way of LG positioning itself for a future battle, rather it’s a way for the company to fight a rearguard action against the rampant success of iOS games.
It’s hard not to feel as if this is a gimmick, an attempt to create headlines and hype instead of developing a solid Android base. LG is playing catch up in the Android space, with Samsung and HTC flourishing. Adding 3D gaming is not going to convince the masses to turn to the Optimus 3D, especially when even LG admits that 2D games will need to be optimised first for conversion.
The company says 50 games will be available and ready to be upscaled when the software rolls out in October, with 50 more to come by the end of 2011. Even those dates could slip though, with the company admitting that it’ll be up to networks to decide when they’re ready to release the necessary update. LG’s so-called “3D technology evangelist”, Dr Henry Nho, has been at pains to point out that this isn’t a hype-building stunt.
“Far from being a gimmick, LG's 3D Game Converter automatically recognizes the depth information based on the location of each object and separates the 2D graphic images for each eye,” said Nho in the press release regarding the conversion engine’s release. If LG is directly addressing the issue of this being a gimmick in promotional material, it’s pretty clear that it is.
The demand for 3D handheld gaming is hardly soaring. LG would be better off focusing on making its Android phones ready for future software updates and leave game development for Android down to the developers themselves. This idea might have taken off if LG had massive traction in the Android space. Sadly, it doesn’t. A 3D gaming conversion engine just isn’t what smartphone users want or need right now.