Gamescom retrospective: Sony missed a trick with the 3D TV

There’s no doubt that stereoscopic 3D brings some extra visual “oomph” to the gaming experience. Killzone 3, MotorStorm Apocalypse and Gran Turismo 5 have all shown off their 3D credentials in some style, and with the likes of Uncharted 3: Drake’s Deception, Resistance 3 and many others set for the same treatment, there is certainly some value in picking up a new 3D TV.

For the majority of people though, 3D TVs are still far too expensive and many still aren’t convinced that the technology will in any way improve the experience – especially those who already have gigantic HD TVs in their gaming spaces. Before Gamescom, we asked numerous gaming friends what their thoughts were on 3D gaming and the vast majority weren’t that bothered about the technology and certainly weren’t looking at investing a lot of money in a 3D TV.

However, with the confirmation at E3 that Sony would launch its own budget-priced 3D TV later in the year, the PlayStation 3 manufacturer had the chance to deliver a product which was such good value that those who haven’t quite made their minds up about 3D gaming wouldn’t be able to resist.

As you’ll probably all be aware by now, Sony used its Gamescom press conference to announce release plans and pricing for its budget-priced 24” 3D TV model, a device that is obviously meant to target those who haven’t got thousands to splash out on a high-end TV. This was Sony’s big chance to convince everyone that 3D gaming is worth a punt.

But, Sony got it wrong. When Jim Ryan, newly-appointed COO of Sony Computer Entertainment Europe (SCEE), confirmed that its new telly would cost 500 Euros, the reaction in the audience said it all. As we shook our heads, you could almost hear the collective sigh of disappointment. Sony had definitely missed a big trick here.

A 24”inch TV isn’t likely to replace the main TV in most people’s living rooms, but as a second TV in a smaller room it’s just about big enough. The problem is that the people who are likely to be in the market to purchase such a small TV are also likely to be those who don’t have huge disposable incomes. Those who have enough money to buy a 3D TV – and really, really wanted to willy-wave and be among the first to have the technology – have already gone out and bought massive 3D TVs that make Sony’s new model look pathetically tiny.

Nonetheless, there’s still a huge audience for these smaller TVs, but the price-point has been set too high by Sony and has therefore alienated a potentially massive audience that it could have won over if the price were lower. Before the conference, we agreed that we would definitely buy Sony’s TV if it cost about £250-£300 – at that price it’s a bargain and, for some, would be an impulse buy. At this price point, it persuades those many gamers who are still wondering whether 3D is worth it to perhaps take a gamble. At this price point, the 3D TVs would have disappeared off the shelves over the Christmas period.

Furthermore, a lower price point would likely encourage consumers, who will now buy a brand new PlayStation 3 following the price cut, to purchase a 3D TV to go with their new console. If the total cost of a console and the TV would have been around £500 then it’s a price that would have immediately made people sit up and consider buying both. People will, of course, still buy Sony’s TV at £500, but nowhere near the amount of consumers if it would have been a couple of hundred pounds lower.

Sony had a real chance to persuade those who are not yet sold on 3D to buy, and the knock on effect would have seen software sales of 3D titles rise. At this £500 price point, however, we can’t help think that Sony has lost its chance to capitalize on the Christmas market and push its 3D gaming campaign to the next level. A price drop, post-Christmas seems likely, but will Sony have left it too late?

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!