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Forget the clunky, thick-framed glasses: Nintendo’s new portable gaming system, 3DS, has become Amazon’s best selling game system of all time. Its success shows the potential for autostereoscopic (glasses free) technology.
The new portable gaming system just launched in Europe on March 25 and in North America on March 27. It’s sold well everywhere, including Japan, where it made a February 26 debut.
Nintendo could sell 10 million pieces of hardware globally this year alone, says Michael Pachter, video game analyst at Wedbush Morgan Securities. (The game company has sold nearly 50 million Nintendo DS systems since launching that hardware in 2004.)
“Nintendo 3DS can play 3D video games and take 3D pictures, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg,” said Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime at a midnight launch at Union Square Best Buy. “The 3D display is amazing in its own right, but just as compelling are the new forms of game play it delivers, and the groundbreaking ways it will connect players to new content … and each other.”
Soon Nintendo will roll out a series of additional features for Nintendo 3DS, including an Internet browser, an online store called Nintendo eShop, the ability to access 3D Hollywood movie trailers, automatic and free access to more than 10,000 AT&T Wi-Fi Hot Spots nationwide and the ability to stream Netflix movies (Netflix unlimited membership required).
Regional U.S. pre-orders for Nintendo 3DS were twice what Nintendo’s Wii console experienced in the same timeframe, according to Colin Sebastian, video game analyst at Lazard Capital Markets.
On January 19, the day Nintendo announced the $250 price point and launch date for Nintendo 3DS, the hardware became the best-selling game system of all time on Amazon.com. This week, those buyers will be getting those systems and any of the 15 launch games – those include PilotWings Resort, Electronic Arts’ Madden NFL Football, Ubisoft’s Splinter Cell 3D, Namco’s Ridge Racer 3D, LucasArts’ LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars, and Capcom’s Super Street Fighter IV: 3D Edition — they ordered at $40 per title.
In Europe, Amazon UK experienced pre-orders that were double those of the Wii. Nintendo sold an estimated 200,000 pieces of 3DS hardware over the weekend in the UK alone. That would make it the biggest game hardware launch in history.
Nintendo expects to sell 4 million Nintendo 3DS hardware units by the end of this month, which marks the end of its fiscal year. The company forecasts that 1.5 million of those devices will be sold in Japan, where the hardware got a head-start over the rest of the world and has been outselling rival Sony’s PSP by almost 3 to 1 in Japan. This month alone, Nintendo was selling in excess of 10,000 pieces of hardware per day in Japan.
“The autostereoscopic graphics in the Nintendo 3DS system have been attracting most of the attention,” says Mizuki Kiyoshi of Nintendo’s Network Software Development Group. “However, we have added other features like the ability to count your steps with a pedometer and share game experiences and content with friends wirelessly with StreetPass.”
Nintendo’s product comes after substantial consumer frustration with 3D glasses, some of which has slowed down consumer upgrading to new 3D technologies.
Nintendo is the first company to launch a portable 3D gaming system, and it won’t be facing competition here from Sony or Apple. (Why not?) But the glasses-free 3D experience will continue to expand. At the recent Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) trade show in Orlando, AT&T and Sprint unveiled new 3D smartphones from LG (Thrill) and HTC (EVO 3D) that offer gaming and entertainment.
Gamers will be able to play some of the same titles, like Gameloft’s Asphalt 3D, across Nintendo 3DS and these new mobile phones, which will launch later this year.
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