I’ll admit that I’m a 3D hater. When it was released, I saw Avatar twice; once in 3D, once without. I didn’t care for the 3D at all, and haven’t seen a movie in 3D since (except for The King’s Speech, of course). I like it for all the reasons that Chris mentioned. It gives me a headache, it makes the screen darker, and I personally don’t feel like it adds much.
I also have to admit that I’ve never actually played a game in 3D. It’s not that I wouldn’t try it for novelty sake, and it’s not that something like Arkham City doesn’t sound kind of awesome in 3D, it’s just that the size of the investment seems way too high. Sure, if a friend of mine had a 3D TV I’d give it a shot, but even when 3D TVs were popular, I wasn’t about to drop all that extra money for a feature that I don’t particularly enjoy.
My personal feeling aside though, I think there are some legitimate reasons why 3D isn’t popular with gamers. First off, it’s appeal, based on genre, seems somewhat limited. What I mean is that while certain first and third person action games might shine using the technology, other genres like strategy, RPG and possibly even sports, would never make use of it in an interesting way. Furthermore, even the games that would make interesting use of the feature often fall into the category of being twitch based. Games like Call of Duty, for instance, might look kind of cool in 3D, but if the ghosting and the darker screen affect your kill / death ratio, you’re going to end up turning it off. So that leaves 3D in a weird place. It can be kind of cool for a somewhat small subset of games, but in terms of mass appeal, I just don’t think it’s every going to catch on. Again, a lot of this has to do with investment vs. return. If 3D were to suddenly catch fire and every single TV came with it for no extra cost, then I definitely think that more gamers would use the 3D feature for games like Arkham City. I highly doubt that is going to happen though. I believe that in-home 3D has run it’s course, at least for the foreseeable future.
While 3D probably isn’t going anywhere, the technology behind the Oculus Rift certainly does present some compelling possibilities. To be fair, the Oculus Rift is faced with a lot of the same problems as 3D technology. It doesn’t do much for games like Diablo, or Civilization, it apparently causes headaches, and up until recently, the displays were not HD. That said, what the Oculus Rift represents is a true technological step forward. To me, modern 3D always felt like a re-hash of a technology from the 60s. What the Oculus Rift represents is a true step toward more immersive — dare I say virtual — environments. That said, I still believe that the Oculus Rift has a long way to go, and I’m not entirely sure it will ever get there. I do think that while 3D is the past though, things like the Oculus Rift represent our gaming future.