Market Insight

Xbox One and PS4 launches without BD3D support

November 15, 2013

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Next generation video games consoles Xbox One and PS4 will not be Blu-ray Disc 3D (BD3D) ready at launch, in November 2013, despite both having BD drives.

Microsoft's Xbox One is positioned as a home entertainment hub, with a series of TV and Entertainment apps enabling integrated TV content, as well as DVD and BD playback. As such it may come of a surprise that Microsoft has opted against making its next generation console BD3D-ready at launch. More so for Sony, who has been one of the driving forces behind modern 3D consumer technology. Sony was one of the first CE manufacturers to launch 3DTV, 3D glasses and 3D BD player starter kits in 2010. Sony Pictures is also one of the key supporters of the BD3D format, having released 21 titles on the format against the Hollywood average of 17 titles per studio.

However, that neither the Xbox One nor the PS4 will be BD3D-ready at launch should not be interpreted as an indication that 3D home entertainment is no longer part of the future. Notably, the PS4 will support 3D gaming from launch. Rather, the decision not to include 3D video playback at launch is likely to be more to do with the two companies racing to market the new games consoles.

New games console buyers are likely to be gamers first and foremost. As such there is little risk that the lack of BD3D playback capacity will hinder sales of either of the console at launch. Previous games console launches have proven that additional features such as video playback are not core features to dedicated gamers. It is after the initial rush of gamers that new games consoles will appeal to consumers at a mass market.

In IHS understanding, the process of updating BD drive to enable BD3D playback is simply a matter of updating the supporting software - provided the BD drive is connected to a processor with enough power to handle high volume of data associated. In other words, just like Sony made the PS3 BD3D-ready through a firmware update well into that consoles lifecycle, it is likely that both of the new generation consoles will similarly be updated at a later stage.

Four years on from the release of Avatar, the hype behind 3D has almost disappeared. Consequently, 3D is not currently considered a mass market proposition. While glassesless 3D technology is available today, glassless 3DTVs are currently priced far above mainstream prices. For most observers, mass market adoption of 3D in the homes is dependent on coming of affordable autostereoscopic 3D displays.

Despite this, the 3D movies market continues to be a substantial one, worth $2.2 billion in the US alone in 2013 in IHS forecasts, and it's a growing market-at an annual increase of 9.1% over 2012. While a sizeable market in its own right, of course 3D movies represents only a small proportion of the overall movies market - in the US, 3D movies makes up 9.5% of total movie spending ($22.9 billion in 2013). The major studios continue to strongly push 3D movies to consumers, releasing 39 movies in US theatres and 34 movie titles on BD3Ds this year. This compares with last year's studio release slate of 32 theatrical titles and 35 home video titles.

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