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RALEIGH, North Carolina (Reuters Life!) - With 3D movies boosting both audience experiences and box office coffers, videogame publishers are following Hollywood's lead and developing 3D games to immerse players more into virtual worlds.
Game makers like Sony Computer Entertainment, Nintendo, Electronic Arts, Capcom, Take-Two Interactive, and Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment will unveil stereoscopic 3D video games at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles next week where over 45,000 game industry professionals check out the big titles of the next year.
"Gamers are the early adopters and once they experience games in 3D, they're not going to want to go back," said Oscar-winning producer Jon Landau, who worked with Ubisoft last year to release the first 3D console video game, "James Cameron's Avatar."
Sony Computer Entertainment will publicly unveil its first big 3D PlayStation 3 video game, developer Guerilla Games' Killzone 3, at E3 which is running from June 15-17.
The latest installment in the bestselling science fiction shooter franchise has been developed from the ground up to take advantage of stereo 3D.
Developer Polyphony Digital is enhancing the upcoming "Gran Turismo 5" PS3 racing game into a 3D experience, which will also be on display at Sony's booth.
"3D is the natural progression of video game technology and it allows us to replicate the experience you have when driving a real car," said Taku Imasaki, producer of "Gran Turismo 5," Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Anyone who owns a PS3 can download a free firmware upgrade to turn the game console into a 3D machine that will play both 3D video games and Blu-ray 3D movies.
"When you play a (2D) video game today, it's almost like you're playing with one eye closed," said David Coombes, platform research manager, Sony Computer Entertainment America.
Sony is practicing synergy across its electronics, video game and home entertainment divisions to get 3D into homes.
Consumers who purchase any of the new 3D Bravia TVs, which will be released in the United States next month, will get a copy of Sony Pictures Home Entertainment's "Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs" Blu-ray 3D and a voucher for four PS3 games.
Gamers can log onto the PlayStation Network Store and download 3D demos of "PAIN" and "MotorStorm: Pacific Rift" and full 3D versions of "WipEout HD" and "Super StarDust HD."
"3D gaming is an immersive experience that adds a new dimension to home entertainment and will help drive adoption of new 3D HDTVs like Sony's Bravia," said Mike Abary, senior vice president of Sony's televisions and home audio video business.
Michael Cai, vice president of research at Interpret, authored a new report called "3D State of Union: Are Consumers Ready?"
He found that 3D TV purchase interest among current PS3 and Xbox 360 owners doubles that of the general population.
Overall, 13 percent of American households are interested in purchasing a 3D TV over the next 12 months.
"Based on consumer data, we anticipate more than 4 million 3D TV sets to be sold in the United States in the next 12 months," said Cai.
When it comes to video games, Cai said big titles in the first-person shooter, racing, and action/adventure genres will drive consumer adoption of 3D gaming, as these genres will provide the most significant enhancements to the gaming experience.
Nintendo will make a big splash at E3 with the unveiling of its Nintendo 3DS portable game device, which will feature autostereoscopic 3D technology that allows viewers to experience 3D games without wearing special glasses.
Thanks to its broad spectrum of gamers across all demographics, Cai found that 27 percent of male gamers and 19 percent of female gamers plan on buying a Nintendo 3DS when it comes out this fall.
An additional 35 percent of male gamers and 37 percent of female gamers may buy the gaming device.
NVIDIA is another company that has been pushing stereo 3D experiences for PC games through its GeForce 3D Vision technology.
The introduction of 3D laptops from companies like Asus and Toshiba has made it easier for gamers to get a 3D experience on the go. NVIDIA's 3DTV Play, which allows 3D PC content to play on any 3D TV, has helped encourage more game developers to add stereo 3D to their games.
"3D is becoming increasingly important in the gaming world, with 3D compatibility a function of all leading titles, and as we move forward content will align with a developing base of 3D-enabled consumer electronics devices," said Patrik Pfandler, senior market analyst, Futuresource Consulting.
Editing by Belinda Goldsmith