3DO Interactive Multiplayer

3DO Interactive Multiplayer

Infobox CVG system
title = 3DO Interactive Multiplayer
logo =

manufacturer= Panasonic, Sanyo and GoldStar
type= Video game console
generation= Fifth generation era
lifespan= vgrelease|NA=September 1993
media= CD-ROM
unitssold = 2 million [cite web |url=http://www.gamepro.com/gamepro/domestic/games/features/111822.shtml |title=The 10 Worst-Selling Consoles of All Time |accessdate=2007-11-25 |author=Blake Snow |publisher=GamePro.com |date=2007-05-04]

3DO Interactive Multiplayer (often called simply 3DO) was a video game console originally produced by Panasonic in vgy|1993. Further renditions of the hardware were released in vgy|1994 by Sanyo and Goldstar. The consoles were manufactured according to specifications created by The 3DO Company, and were originally designed by Dave Needle and RJ Mical of "New Technology Group". The system was conceived by entrepreneur and EA Games founder Trip Hawkins. [http://classicgaming.gamespy.com/View.php?view=ConsoleMuseum.Detail&id=38&game=12index.shtml 3DO - 1993-1996 - Classic Gaming ] ]

Despite a highly-promoted launch (including being named Time Magazine's "1994 Product of the Year") and a host of cutting-edge technologies, the 3DO's high price ($699.95 USD at launch), limited 3rd-party developer support, and an over-saturated console market prevented the system from achieving success comparable to competitors Sega and Nintendo.

Features and catalogue

The original edition of the console, the FZ-1, was referred to in full as the "3DO REAL Interactive Multiplayer". The console had advanced hardware features at the time: an ARM60 32-bit RISC CPU, two custom video co-processors, a custom 16-bit DSP and a custom math co-processor. It also featured 2 megabytes of DRAM, 1 megabyte of VRAM, and a double speed CD-ROM drive for main CD+Gs or Photo CDs (and Video CDs with an add-on MPEG video module). The 3DO included the first music visualizer in a game console, converting CD music to a mesmerizing color pattern. The controller was also original for its time; a headphone jack and volume dial was available at the bottom of the initial version.

Some of the best-received titles were ports of arcade or PC games that other cartridge-based systems of the time were not capable of playing, such as "Alone in the Dark", "Myst" and "Star Control II". Other popular titles included "Total Eclipse", "Jurassic Park Interactive", "Gex", "Crash 'n Burn", "Slayer", "Killing Time", "Need for Speed", and "Immercenary". Additionally, 3DO had the most popular port of "Road Rash", and the arcade fighting game "Samurai Shodown" was ported to the system with all original graphics intact. The first home port of "Super Street Fighter II Turbo" was also available on the system, exceeding the original with its CD-quality audio.

However, the 3DO library also exhibited less successful aspects of home gaming at the time. It was launched at the dawn of CD-ROM gaming, and early titles on 3DO (and Sega CD alike) frequently attempted to use interactive movie-style gameplay. Such titles relied entirely on full motion video with little interactive influence from the player, often patternized beyond a flexible standard. "Night Trap", "Mad Dog McCree", and "The Daedalus Encounter" are some of the more notorious titles from this era. Also, digital video was of very low quality at the time, especially on low-cost consumer devices. Aside from this, the most significant issue with interactive movie games was their limited level of interactivity and depth. Some games followed a single unfolding of events entirely, motivated simply by correctly timed prompts executed by the player.

Game series that were originally launched on the 3DO by Electronic Arts, Studio 3DO and Crystal Dynamics established themselves on other 32-bit consoles, such as the Sony PlayStation. One major hit for the 3DO, "Return Fire", an advanced tank battle game, was ported to the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Windows, but was met with limited success.

The 3DO is one of few CD-based units that feature neither regional lockout nor copy protection, making it easy to use for pirated software. [ [http://3do.classicgaming.gamespy.com/Frames%201.html 3DO Today ] ] Although there is no regional lockout present in any 3DO machine, a few Japanese games cannot be played on non-Japanese 3DO consoles due to a special kanji font which English language consoles could not read. Games that did not and still had compatibility issues include "Sword and Sorcery" (which was released in English under the title "Lucienne's Quest") and a demo version of "Alone in the Dark".

3DO hardware


*Panasonic FZ-1 R.E.A.L. 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (Japan, Asia, North America and Europe) - The first 3DO system, which was initially priced at $699.99 in the U.S. The price was later reduced to $499.99 in the fall of 1994. [ cite journal
year =1994
month =December 11
title =For 3DO, a Make-or-Break Season
url =http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9904E1DF1039F932A25751C1A962958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all
journal =New York Times
*Panasonic FZ-10 R.E.A.L. 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (Japan, North America and Europe) - Less expensive than the FZ-1, the FZ-10 is also smaller, a primary selling point along with the new top-loading design.
*Goldstar 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (South Korea, North America and Europe)
*Goldstar 3DO ALIVE II (South Korea only)
*Sanyo TRY 3DO Interactive Multiplayer (Japan only)
*Creative 3DO Blaster - PC ISA expansion card with a double-speed CD-ROM drive and one controller that enables a PC to play 3DO games.

ystem specifications


*32-bit 12.5 MHz RISC CPU (ARM60) made by Advanced RISC Machines (roughly equivalent to 25 MHz 68030)
*Math co-processor
*32kb SRAM


*Interpolated 640x480 resolution output to screen, upsampled from 320x240 or 320x480 internal resolution with either 16 bit palettized color (from 24 bits) or 24 bit truecolor. [ [http://www.classicgaming.com/museum/faqs/3dofaq.shtml#section3 3DO FAQ - Classic Gaming ] ]
*Two accelerated video co-processors capable of producing 9-16 million pixels per second (36-64 megapix/s interpolated), distorted, scaled, rotated and texture mapped.

ystem board

*50Mb/s bus speed
*36 DMA channels
*2 megabytes of main RAM
*1 megabyte of VRAM
*2 expansion ports


*16-bit stereo sound
*44.1 kHz sound sampling rate
*Supports Dolby Surround Sound
*Custom 16-bit Digital Signal Processor (DSP)


*Double-speed (depending on manufacturer) 300 kB/s data transfer CD-ROM drive with 32 kB RAM buffer
*Multitasking 32-bit operating system


By the early 1990s, the video game market had become overcrowded with a plethora of consoles. Sega, Nintendo, Commodore, SNK, and Atari each had a video game system on the market. When viewed internationally, the chief competition for the 3DO during its peak had been Nintendo's SNES, the Sega Genesis and NEC's TurboGrafx-16 platforms. The higher quality of later CD-ROM based systems that emerged in the mid-90s (primarily the Sony PlayStation), the limited library of titles, lack of third-party support, and a refusal to reduce pricing until almost the end of the product's life cycle were among the many issues that led to 3DO's demise.

For a significant period of the product's life cycle, 3DO's official stance on pricing was that the 3DO was not a video game console, rather a high-end audio-visual system and was priced accordingly, so no price adjustment was needed. Price drops announced in February 1996 were perceived in the industry to be an effort to improve market penetration before the release of the promised successor of 3DO, the M2. Heavy promotional efforts on the YTV variety show "It's Alive" and a stream of hinted product expandability supported that idea; however, the M2 project was eventually scrapped altogether.

The 3DO system was eventually discontinued at the end of 1996 with a complete shutdown of all internal hardware development and divestment of the M2 technology. 3DO restructured themselves around this same time, repositioning their internal software development house (Studio3DO) as a multi-platform company supporting the Sony PlayStation, Sega Saturn, and PC platforms with a re-launch of "Star Fighter" and the PC launch of the first commercial, 3-D MMORPG, "Meridian 59". The business's most successful post 3DO software release is considered to be the "Army Men" franchise which was their featured product line up until the company filed for bankruptcy and liquidated its assets in 2003. Take 2 Interactive acquired the rights to the "Army Men" series.

Aborted successor

The 3DO Company designed a next-generation console that was never released due to various business and technological issues. Called the M2, it was to use dual PowerPC 602 processors in addition to newer 3D and video rendering technologies. Late during development, the company abandoned the console hardware business and sold the M2 technology to Matsushita. While Matsushita initially claimed to be planning a game console with the technology, it was shortly thereafter re-branded for the kiosk market competing with the CD-i system.

Konami later made an M2-based arcade board. [ [http://www.system16.com/hardware.php?id=575 System 16 - M2 Hardware (Konami) ] ] Games ran straight from the CD-ROM drive causing long load times and a high failure rate due to the CD-ROM being continuously in-use.

See also

*3DO Rating System
*List of 3DO games

Market competition

Video game (primary market at launch)

* NEC PC Engine with Super CD-ROM expansion
* Nintendo's Super Nintendo
* Sega MegaDrive with CD-ROM expansion

Video game (primary market at end-of-life)

* Nintendo's N64
* Sega's Saturn
* Sony's PlayStation

High-end A/V (secondary market)

(multi-purpose audio/video systems)
* Commodore's CDTV
* Philips' CD-i
* Pioneer's LaserActive


External links


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