Sony Caps Resolution For PS3 3D Games To 720p

Jonathan Sutton

Sony has poured a lot of resources and effort into pushing its 3D-related offerings, ranging from 3D-capable source devices to 3D TV displays. Key in the company’s strategic roadmap is its heavy involvement in developing and supporting 3D games which is seen as the “killer 3D content” crucial to stimulating 3D TV adoption. So far Sony has released a firmware update that adds 3D gaming functionality to the Playstation 3 (PS3), and launched several 3D games such as Wipeout HD, Super Stardust HD, PAIN, and a demo version of MotorStorm Pacific Rift, with further eagerly awaited 3D incarnations of Killzone 3 and Gran Turismo 5 to follow.

But there remain some doubts whether the Sony PS3’s inherent hardware bottleneck can truly allow 3D games to flourish – in a previous news article we pointed out that the rendering of 3D games places a much higher processing demand on the console’s chipset compared to 2D games, and so necessitating a compromise in either graphics quality or frame rate.

True enough, according to the official guidelines unveiled at a conference event for European game developers this week, Sony has placed a maximum resolution limit of 720p for 3D games played on the PS3. Speaking at the Develop Conference in Brighton, Sony Computer Entertainment Europe’s senior development manager Simon Benson said that although the Sony PS3 is capable of rendering 3D images at 1080p, the console will scale down native 1080p games (for example Super Stardust HD) to 720p resolution when running in 3D mode.

He explained that the ceiling resolution of 720p is imposed to prevent 3D games from dropping below 60fps (frames per second), therefore ensuring that gamers can still enjoy a smooth 3D gaming experience. Mr Benson conceded that a “more cinematic game” may benefit from a higher resolution but at a lower frame rate (after all Sony is going to release a firmware update in September that will enable the PS3 to playback 3D Blu-ray movies in 1080p at 24fps), but unfortunately such a setting is not permitted within the current framework.

Mr Benson was quick to reassure that this 720p resolution cap for 3D games would probably go unnoticed by the majority of gamers, claiming that even well-trained computer graphics designers can barely tell the difference between 720p and 1080p in 3D. Most 2D games do not run natively in 1080p anyway, so this 720p resolution cap for the sake of 3D can hardly be construed as a significant downgrade.