updated 08:15 am EDT, Wed September 29, 2010
Nintendo 3DS due in Japan February 26, US in March
Nintendo today set its promised launch date and price for the 3DS with a warning that it would hurt the company's results. The 3D-capable handheld will reach Japan well after the holidays, on February 26, and will cost the equivalent of $299. North America should get the 3DS in March.
The company warned that the 3DS' 2011 timing would cause trouble with its fiscal results as it had originally expected to ship the game system for the holidays. It still expected to make a profit through its fiscal year, which ends in March, but has slashed its estimates from the equivalent of $2.4 billion to just $1 billion. The company also now plans to sell fewer DS systems in fiscal 2010 than it did in 2009, dropping from 27 million to 23.5 million. Four million of those will be 3DS systems, it said.
The results reinforce beliefs in an iPod touch effect on the Japanese firm. While Nintendo often has the advantage of its first party titles, the older hardware, lack of full Internet or media support and more expensive games have all been considered factors in steering gamers away from the DS. The 3DS at $299 will also be a full $50 more expensive than the $249 Japanese price of the fourth-generation iPod touch despite hardware drawbacks.
Publicly, Nintendo has tried to avoid acknowledging Apple as a main rival but is suspected of privately treating it as a main enemy and even dismissing Sony's PSP as a non-factor. Apple has made no hesitation in pitting the iPod touch against both Nintendo and Sony and claims that it sells more iPods in one quarter than the DS and PSP combined.
In production form, the 3DS will come in either aqua or black and will be bundled with a 2GB SD card for storage. Nintendo also plans to supply six augmented reality cards for virtual characters. Fuji TV and NTV will be running a test project with 3D video streaming for 3DS owners, and veteran gamers will have the option of downloading Virtual Console-like original Game Boy and Game Boy Advance titles.
The design is dominated by a 3.5-inch, 800x240 Sharp screen that produces glasses-free 3D and can have its 3D effect dialed down or even muted entirely. A three-inch, 320x240 touchscreen provides the majority of the control and backwards compatibility. One camera is on the inside for self portraits and will even auto-generate a Mii character, but twin cameras on the outside produce 3D images. Nintendo will have both an accelerometer and a gyroscopic sensor to support motion gaming, and it now has one analog stick for more complex titles.
Its 802.11g Wi-Fi now supports both WPA and WPA2 as well as a persistent connection to download content in the background. It will also have a trick "tag mode" to encourage spontaneous multiplayer. In titles such as Super Street Fighter IV, the 3DS will notify when another player is nearby evne while closed and will offer a chance to play.
As part of the launch, Nintendo also confirmed the existence of the Wii Remote Plus without giving more details and promised a Japan-oriented, Super Mario 25th anniversary DSi LL coming on January 28 for the equivalent of $215.