Nintendo’s still not ready to spill all the beans about the
3DS, its handheld game system that projects stereoscopic 3D images without the
need for special glasses, but it’s getting close.
The company cryptically announced it would give details of a
‘new product’ on Sept. 29. And while it’s possible the company has something
unknown up its sleeve, most industry observers expect it will use that date to
give the launch date and price for the 3DS.
Nintendo, to date, has only said it would launch the system
before the end of its fiscal year (which closes on March 31, 2011). There was
some speculation that the company would slip it onto store shelves this holiday
season, but that died down when Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime
told talk show host Jimmy Fallon the 3DS was planned for “next year”. (Nintendo
has since backed off of Fils-Aime’s comment.)
Nintendo is the first gaming company to announce portable
plans for 3D, but hardly the first to embrace the technology. Sony’s
PlayStation 3 already supports stereoscopic 3D – and while Microsoft has not formally
announced plans to enter the space, Electronic Arts implied the Xbox 360 would
do so when “Crysis 2” is launched later this year.
The 3DS is meant less to compete with emerging console
technologies, though, as it is to give Nintendo an upper hand in its escalating
battle with the iPhone. Apple has been making steady inroads in the portable
gaming space, offering quality games for less than $10. Titles for the Nintendo
DSi typically cost between $20 and $40.
With a 3D display incorporated into the 3DS, however,
Nintendo will be able to further differentiate its offerings from Apple‘s. The
company’s handhelds already have exclusivity on some of the industry’s top game
franchises, including Mario and Zelda.