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Xbox exec not buying into 3D gaming

Although the PlayStation 3 and 3D technology may be BFFs, Microsoft is not yet ready to push the new tech just yet. In an interview with CNN, Phil Spencer, corporate VP for Microsoft Game Studios, made it clear that Xbox 360 is in no rush to push out 3D games.

“As an entertainment company, we’re trying to do things that millions of people can go enjoy today,” Spencer told CNN. “And for better or for worse, people just don’t really have TVs in their house right now that are going to do 3D in a way that’s going to work.”

In a vacuum, the story of Xbox not fully embracing 3D gaming might be a non-issue, but with Sony pushing the 3D side of their upcoming games extremely hard, it could become something of a deciding factor for the systems, for good or ill.

On one hand, you have the PlayStation 3, which is banking on the 3D technology to catch on, so much so that several games including the franchise hit Killzone 3 are being designed with 3D specifically in mind. Several older games are also going to be receiving a 3D update, while most new Sony exclusives should have some 3D compatibility. At E3, Sony made it clear that it sees the future of gaming heading for three dimensions.  On paper it sounds like a no-brainer. The technology exists, Sony is among the pioneers of that technology, so why not push it in as many directions as possible? Of course, while the PS3 has been updated via firmware to accept 3D games, there is still the matter of buying a new 3D TV.

“As a corporate mandate, I don’t need to sell you a new TV,” Spencer said, “That’s not part of my business model. Other companies maybe have that part of their business model. I don’t.”

Spencer’s quote is an obvious jab at his competitor, and recent reports suggest that 3D TV sales are nowhere near what manufacturers had initially hoped. And then of course, there are the 3D glasses.

“A bunch of people sitting around the living room wearing $150 glasses — I’m just not sure that’s kind of mainstream today,” he said. “Trying to get a bunch of people playing together in a room where not everybody sees the same thing … is kind of a weird disconnect to me.”

While Spencer may be happy to take potshots at Sony, that doesn’t mean that Xbox is planning to abandon the 3D gaming market. There are currently a handful of games on the Xbox 360 that do support 3D, including Avatar The Game, and Batman: Arkham Asylum.

“It felt a little more like a science experiment than something that’s going to go touch millions of people,” Spencer said of Batman: Arkham Asylum for the Xbox 360, which sells with 3D glasses. “Clearly, we’re not going to ignore 3-D. I think it is something that will play a role in entertainment.”

3D may still be the wave of the future, but it sounds like Microsoft and the Xbox 360 will not be leading the charge.