Nintendo has announced that its 3DS handheld console will arrive in Japan on February 26 – with European and US launch dates following in March. The device, which provides a stereoscopic 3D effect without the need for glasses, will get a Japanese price point of ¥25000 (£188).
There’s no word on a UK price yet, but industry new source MCV predicts it’ll be £199. The veteran hardware manufacturer expects to shift four million units by the end of March 2011, with game sales of up to 15 million.
The design of the console will be virtually unchanged since its appearance at the E3 event in June (read our hands-on responses here and here). Nintendo has, however, shown off a telescopic metal stylus that will accompany the hardware.
During this week’s Nintendo Conference the company has also revealed details of software and services available with the device, including a selection of augmented reality mini-games and ‘Mii Studio’, which allows gamers to create personalised Mii avatars based around self-portraits snapped with the 3DS camera. There will also be a retro gaming service, like the Wii’s Virtual Console, allowing owners to download classic Game Boy, Game Boy Colour and Game Boy Advance titles.
However, the delay to the expected 3DS launch, originally slotted for this Winter, has seen Nintendo slashing its profit forecast for the financial year. Net revenues are expected to be Y90 billion, down from Y200bn last year.
Despite the downbeat profit forecast, the company was still bullish over sales expectations for the 3D device, predicting sales of four million devices in its first month.
The group is backing the 3DS to boost sales, as the initial DS – which was launched six years ago – and its Wii console have lost momentum. It also faces increased competition from gaming on smartphones.
The 3DS was unveiled at the gaming industry showpiece event E3 in Los Angeles, this June.
At the analysts presentation yesterday, Mr Iwata also revealed Nintendo has a partnership with Fuji TV to stream 3D video content to the handheld.
The console market is increasingly competitive, as Sony and Microsoft are set to launch motion-sensing gaming to rival Nintendo’s Wii in time for Christmas.
* Top half is made up of 2 LCD screens
* They are layered on top of one another
* One image is sent to user’s left eye
* One image is sent to user’s right eye
* This creates 3D image without glasses
Company bosses are hoping its unique selling point of being able to play games and watch films in 3D without special glasses will be enough to win over gamers.
It will face stiff competition in the video game market from both of its main rivals.
Sony has already released its new Playstation Move controller.
While Xbox is confident its Kinect add-on will provide gamers with an entirely different way of playing video games.
It uses a motion capture system which translates people’s body movements into game play.
Bosses at Nintendo will be hoping for early signs of strong sales from the 3DS.
Over recent months the number of DS models and Wii being sold has started to drop off.
Despite getting good reviews during its unveiling at E3 the company’s President Satoru Iwata says he’s not complacent.
“The 3DS was very well received at E3 but… one problem is that you can’t understand it without trying it out”.
Spokesman Rob Saunders added: “The company has never worked so hard on a new product launch”.
“We’ve got over 70 games currently in development for it. Metal Gear Solid, Resident Evil, Mario, they’re all coming.
“What you’re seeing, I think, is games developers really getting to grips with 3D for the first time.
“Giving gamers something they really haven’t seen before which, without the glasses, truly is a revolution.”