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NEW YORK CITY — Nintendo of America will bring the latest iteration of its bestselling portable gaming system, the Nintendo 3DS, to U.S. gamers on March 27 for $250. It will be available in two colors: Aqua Blue and Midnight Black. The Japanese game maker held a press event today in New York City to showcase its lineup of new autostereoscopic (glasses free) games.
Nintendo expects to sell four million Nintendo 3DS devices by March 31, 2011, which marks the end of its fiscal year. The company expects to sell 15 million Nintendo 3DS games in that time frame. The new system will debut in Japan on Feb. 26 before heading to the U.S.
Michael Pachter, video game analyst for Wedbush Morgan Securities, expects Nintendo will produce 2 million pieces of hardware per month. That would give Nintendo 24 million Nintendo 3DS systems by the end of its fiscal year on March 31, 2012.
Nintendo will continue to support its other portable hardware, which includes the $130 Nintendo DS Lite, the $150 Nintendo DSi, and the $170 Nintendo DSi XL. Nintendo sold 2.5 million units of these portables in the U.S. in December, bringing the total U.S. install base for the Nintendo DS family to 47 million since the device launched in November 2004.
That makes it the best-selling video game system in U.S. history. But Nintendo has had success globally, as well. Nintendo has sold over 135 million Nintendo DS portables worldwide.
“I’m sure that Nintendo is going the 3D route because the consumer will support it, it’s quite different, and they can be first to market,” said Pachter. “My guess is that with a price cut, regular Nintendo DS sales drop to 10 million or so annually. So combined, they will sell 30 to 35 million, which is definitely not too shabby.”
Nintendo 3DS comes with a 3.53-inch top screen and a 3.02-inch bottom touch screen. It has three cameras — one inner and two outer — to deliver the 3D effect and take 3D pictures. It includes a motion sensor, a gyro sensor and even a slide pad that allows 360-degree analog input.
Nintendo DS games will play in both 2D or 3D, as the slide pad that allows gamers to control the depth, or “parallax barrier,” of the on-screen action. Nintendo will support the new system with new iterations of franchises like Mario Kart, Paper Mario, StarFox, and Animal Crossing. Some of the third party games shipping for the portable device include EA Sports’ Madden NFL Football, Capcom’s Resident Evil Revelations, Activision’s DJ Hero 3D, and Namco Bandai’s Ridge Racer.
“We think that the 3DS is so far ahead of other mobile devices in its game playing capabilities that it will generate substantial excitement this year among the many core gamers craving a new hardware device,” said David Cole, president of video game research firm DFC Intelligence.
Sony jumped into the stereoscopic 3D game last year with its free firmware upgrade, which turned every PlayStation 3 into a Blu-ray 3D player and a 3D gaming device for titles like Gran Turismo 5, MLB 11: The Showand Killzone 3. But gamers need to upgrade to a 3D TV to experience stereoscopic 3D.
Ultimately, Nintendo will be facing competition from new 3D rivals in the consumer electronics and handset carrier space. At CES 2011, companies were showing off autostereoscopic smart phones and tablet devices that are capable of playing console-quality 3D games through new Tegra 2 technology from NVIDIA.
NVIDIA also offers PC gamers stereo 3D gaming experiences for over 400 games through its 3D Vision technology, which is now available on a wide array of desktops and laptops.
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