Nintendo President Satoru Iwata made the announcement at a Wednesday news conference in Chiba, Japan, which is near Tokyo. The 3DS, the latest generation of the DS line of portables, is unique in that people can play 3D games and view 3D content without the use of special glasses.
Nintendo, which is battling a slump in sales for its video-game consoles, plans to release the highly anticipated 3DS portable gaming device in the United States in March. wata said the 3DS would be released first in Japan Feb. 26 and in Europe, Australia and the U.S. the next month. Specific launch dates will be released in each country separately.
The 3DS, which was unveiled at E3, lets the user play games, including updates to the “Legend of Zelda” and “Mario Kart” series, in 3-D without using special glasses. The model Iwata displayed Wednesday looked slightly different from the one demoed at E3 in June.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that he hopes to improve upon the DS’s third-party game sales numbers when the device launches, according to GameSpot. That should come as no surprise to anyone who saw Nintendo’s massive list of supporting developers at E3, which included Activision, EA, Harmonix, Konami and Capcom.
The 3DS will run ¥25,000 (about $300) in Japan, though Nintendo didn’t articulate pricing info for other regions. It will also come packaged with an AC adapter, 10cm Nintendo 3DS touch pen and 2GB SD card to store DLC. As far as measurements go, the final design comes out to 134mm by 74mm, 21mm of thickness and a weight of 230 grams.
Nintendo had not announced a release date for the 3DS at the E3 expo. But many observers expected the company to follow the path of most major gaming releases and hit the market in time for the holiday shopping season.
The news will be a big blow for the firm, which has struggled to compete with big-hitters Microsoft (Xbox) and Sony (Playstation). As a result Nintendo was forced to cut its earnings forecast for the year by a third. The company trimmed its projection for overall DS sales for the year to 23.5m units from 30m and lowered its estimate for Wii consoles to 17.5m machines from 18m.
The casing of the console is expected to be almost identical to one demonstrated at the annual E3 games event in June. The 3DS will also allow users to download games from a platform similar to Apple’s App Store, cashing in on the trend for classic games.
While this year has been dubbed “the year of 3-D,” the hurdle remains of promoting both hardware and software in a unified manner in order to spread 3-D to a wider range of consumers, Iwata said. “In the case of 3-D games with stationary consoles, it is only a small portion of customers who actually play on 3-D-ready TVs,” he said, mentioning the advantage of playing hand-held devices that come with 3-D screens. While the 3.53-inch upper screen displays 3-D images, the 3.02-inch bottom screen is used to take touch-screen commands from the stylus. Users of the 3DS can adjust the sense of 3-D depth with the “3-D volume” slide and play 2-D games by turning the 3-D tuner off. The device also comes with Wi-Fi.
In launching the 3DS next February, Nintendo will miss this year’s holiday shopping season. However, this season will see a crowded video-game market as Sony and Microsoft will be pushing new motion-sensing hardware for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, respectively. Nintendo first released the DS portable in 2004. Since then, the company has sold more than 130 million units of the original and the several revisions that followed.