3D exposure up as spending wanes, handheld gaming a ‘bright spot’

A new report from entertainment industry research firm The NPD Group this week shed new light on the battle to push 3D technology onto consumers – a battle some believe 3D proponents are losing.

3D exposure up as spending wanes, handheld gaming a 'bright spot'

According to the group’s latest study, the number of people who professed an interest in spending money on products such as 3D movies and 3D TVs stood in stark contrast with the fact that now more than ever consumers are being inundated with information about the medium.

Sure enough, ads for recent summer blockbusters have touted 3D versions (“also in 2D,” of course) as the definitive way to experience them. Reactions to those industry nudges, however, are noticeably mixed: early figures for the 3D version of the “Harry Potter” series finale “The Deathly Hallows Part II” lent credence to those who believe the format is finished, while “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” in 3D fared better.

Ross Rubin, the executive director of industry analysis at NPD, admitted that disinterest in purchasing 3D TVs rose significantly this year. Rubin cited “the seasonality of major electronics purchases” as a contributing factor to the decline. As usual, price and the necessity of clunky glasses lead the list of reasons polled consumers cited for their lack of enthusiasm.

One faction of 3D technology that the research group says performed oppositely in terms of garnering interest were handheld and home video game consoles. Rubin chalks the lion’s share of the boost to Nintendo’s 3DS platform, which offers glasses-less 3D visuals. While some speculated the device’s $249 price tag is a major reason for a slow start even Nintendo has acknowledged, the analyst points out that it’s still a cheaper alternative than a full-blown new TV.

“Growth in both awareness and purchase intent for the 3D video-game player market is a particular bright spot in this emerging arena,” Rubin said, adding: “These advantages will also hold true for 3D smartphones entering the market this year.”

Despite all the negative stacked up against 3D, Rubin refuses to count the format out.

“With lighter and less expensive active shutter glasses, a mix of smaller displays, and the entry of passive 3D technologies into the market, the industry is offering more 3D options to consumers,” he said. “A greater array of Blu-ray titles, along with new digital delivery alternatives, is also helping to ease the path to 3D entertainment.”

Do you agree with the analyst’s hopeful outlook for 3D, or think the format needs to be put out to pasture? Let us know in the comment section.