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At Japanese video game expo, focus is on future of 3-D

CHIBA, Japan — The Tokyo Game Show has a lot of people wearing dark glasses this year, with the buzz turning 3-D at the annual event that brings together the latest offerings from game machine and software makers.

But despite the fanfare and razzle-dazzle footage, people checking out 3-D games for the PlayStation 3 at Sony's sprawling booth were warned to take the special glasses off immediately if they felt sick or giddy.

And Nintendo, also hoping for a boost from 3-D technology with its planned 3DS handheld that's set to go on sale before April, was conspicuously absent.

The event previewed to reporters and guests Thursday ahead of its opening to the public this weekend. It is expected to draw more than 180,000 people.

Nintendo, the manufacturer of the Wii console and Super Mario games, is skipping the show and planning a separate Sept. 29 event, where the 3DS is expected to take center stage.

"It's like the elephant in the room," said gaming expert Mark MacDonald, executive director at Tokyo-based 8-4 Ltd., which brings Japanese games to the United States.

The show's focus was obviously on 3-D, but the full potential of 3-D for games has yet to be explored, McDonald said.

"It's a young technology in terms of games. People don't know yet how much is too much," he said. "You might start feeling sick, or you just want to see the game and feel I can't see what's going on."

Sony announced that its PlayStation 3 game console will work as a Blu-ray disc player for 3-D movies and music videos, not just 3-D games, with a software update download starting Tuesday.

The free update for movies and other content had been promised for later this year. But the date was moved up to ride on the momentum of 3-D popularity, Sony executive Hiroshi Kawano said.

The reason more time is needed for 3-D gaming to take off for home consoles is that it requires a 3-D TV set, which cost about $2,000 or more. Software makers are waiting for sales of the TVs to increase before investing in developing 3-D games, said Yusuke Tsunoda, an analyst at Tokai Tokyo Securities Co. in Tokyo.

At Japanese video game expo, focus is on future of 3-D 09/16/10 [Last modified: Thursday, September 16, 2010 10:36pm]
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