RPT-Gameworld: Hollywood sends 3D home -- in videogames

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RALEIGH, North Carolina, July 9 (Reuters Life!) - Coming to a living room near you -- 3D videogames.

A spate of summer blockbuster movies like Disney/Pixar's DIS.N "Up," 20th Century Fox's VIAb.N"Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs" and the upcoming Disney "G-Force" movie have introduced moviegoers to the latest stereoscopic 3D technology.

Now videogames are following suit, with moves to bring the third dimension home as some of the biggest names in Hollywood work on 3D videogames expanding on the stories of their 3D films.

Disney Interactive Studios’ “G-Force” game for Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3, based on Jerry Bruckheimer’s live action 3D film featuring secret agent guinea pigs, will use Anaglyph 3D, the traditional red and blue glasses from the 1950s 3D craze.

Disney is using this same technology on a Wii game due out in fall, “Disney/Pixar’s Toy Story Midway Mania,” which is based on the Walt Disney World and Disneyland 4D theme park ride and comes out alongside the movie “Toy Story 3D” in October.

Pushing 3D technology even further, Ubisoft UBIP.PA has developed proprietary stereoscopic 3D technology -- the clear polarized glasses movie theater patrons receive these days -- for "James Cameron's Avatar" game.

The action game, which was shown behind closed doors at E3 in Los Angeles last month, will be the first Hollywood-licensed game to introduce stereoscopic 3D to gamers.

“It’s pretty fantastic,” said Cameron, during his E3 press conference about the game.

“You just stick your head into the monitor and the world wraps around you. It’s the first time in a videogame that I was afraid…when the hammerhead enemies attack. It’s very frightening.” 3D TELEVISION?

Just as videogame consoles like Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 helped convince consumers to upgrade to HD TVs, 3D videogames could enhance the attraction of 3D TVs in living rooms.

“I think as all entertainment is going 3D, there’s a huge interest and desire on the part of equipment manufacturers to bring the 3D stereoscopic technology into the home,” said Hoyt Yeatman, Oscar-winning special effects expert and director of “G-Force.”

“I think games will lead that trend. The 3D really does add an appreciable level to the playing experience.”

John Taylor, videogame analyst at Arcadia Research, said the combination of the “Toy Story 3D” release this fall for family audiences and “Avatar” for sci-fi fans will raise awareness and grow the fan base of 3D.

“As is usually the case, we would expect heavy media users, especially sci-fi fans and gamers, to be the first to upgrade, and for them, “Avatar” could be a key demand driver,” said Taylor.

“Mass audiences are likely to be later to the party, first because of price, and second, because the amount of 3D content will be limited for some time.”

For now, 2D gaming remains the staple.

Electronic Arts ERTS.O just released its games based on "Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince."

Activision ATVI.O has a double feature with a virtual version of "Ice Age: Dawn of Dinosaurs" and a new "Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen" game. The original "Transformers" game sold over 3.16 million copies in the U.S. alone, according to The NPD Group.

Actor Shia LaBeouf, who stars in both games, said videogames were now more successful than films.

“It’s a more all-encompassing medium. You have more control over it. It moves at the tempo of the personality playing it. It’s just a different form of entertainment that’s more of a tangible, visceral, emotional experience,” he said.

“As technology and as these incredible artists that work on videogames continue to push the envelope, the entire videogame sector will explode. It’s not going to go away. If anything, it will take over (entertainment).”

Editing by Belinda Goldsmith