20 Jan 2011

Nintendo 3DS US Press Conference

Nintendo held 2 3DS press conferences yesterday: One in New York, and another in Amsterdam.

Price: US$249.99

Kind of expected. Although Japan announced a 25,000 yen price tag (roughly 300 USD), prices Nintendo hardware usually translates to USD at 100 yen per USD. And also gaming in Japan is generally more expensive than in the US anyway. This price puts it in the same price point as the Wii at launch. While the high price might scare some away, remember that Nintendo has completely captured a huge new gaming demographic with both the DS and Wii, gaining a lot of new fans that are used to expensive gadgets (like many smart phones nowadays) anyway.

Launch Date: 27 March (US)

Not unexpected either. Nintendo of America tends to launch products on Sundays, and this date falls on the very last Sunday of their fiscal year. This date seems a bit rushed though. Firstly, they only have 4 million units at launch (1.5 million for Japan, 3.5 million for the rest of the world). When the DS launched, Japan took less than a month to buy up 1.45 million units, while US and Europe bought about 2 million units. It quickly became scarce in Japan and retailers started "reverse importing" DS' from the US. The Wii launch had similar sales, but would have done a lot better if not for it's scarcity and Nintendo's ability to make only 1.8 million units a month. With the 3DS, there is no direct competitor (3D gaming handheld?), and it will be hard to even manufacture it at the same rate as the Wii because of the 3D screens. These things will be sold out within a week or 2, and will be hard to find for at least a year. At the height of its popularity, the DS was selling 5 to 6 million each quarter, with holiday seasons hitting 8 to 10 million. If you really want a 3DS this year, go out and preorder it now!

Games at Launch window (launch till early June): 30+ games

The second reason why this feels rush is that they do not have the confidence to state the number of games that will be available at launch. 30+ games by June 2011 sounds rather good, but a lot of the more important titles do not have a concrete release date, which makes it very worrying. Here's a list of announced games coming out during that launch window.

Pilotwings Resort
nintendogs + cats
Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor Overclocked
Super Street Fighter IV 3D Edition
Resident Evil: The Mercenaries 3D
Madden NFL Football
The Sims 3
Pro Evolution Soccer 2011 3D
LEGO Star Wars III: The Clone Wars
Ridge Racer 3D
Dual Pen Sports
Super Monkey Ball 3D
Thor: God of Thunder
Samurai Warriors Chronicles
Dead or Alive Dimensions
Asphalt 3D
Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon Shadow Wars
Combat of Giants: Dinosaurs 3D
Tom Clancy's Splinter Cell 3D
Rayman 3D
Rabbids Travel in Time

Where's Mario? Or Zelda? Or any serious first party Nintendo game franchise? Nintendo states that the following games are "in the works": The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D, Star Fox 64 3D, Kid Icarus: Uprising, Mario Kart, Animal Crossing and Paper Mario. None of these (actual games that matter!) have any sort of release date or time frame.

Revamp of Nintendo online systems

Nintendo also announced a few other interesting things. Friend codes are now tied to the system, which means each person only has one friend code. I also spotted some "Friends List" and "Friend Online Notification" in some of the presentation and promotional trailers. Europe gets Shaun the Sheep cartoon (by the same people who make Wallace and Gromit) and some 3D sports channels. Quite an interesting deal if you ask me! The US on the other hand doesn't get any special treatment. They had previously announced some collaboration with Dreamworks and other Hollywood studios, so I guess they are not ready to say more about this just yet. Another change from the existing DS systems is that the Online Shop would be vastly improved, with more categories and stuff like that to make search for similar titles (the games, related videos, etc..) much easier.

Other features mentioned, like the Street Pass, Home button, "Analog stick", and included software had already been revealed previously so I won't state them here. If you want to check out some videos or get more detailed information, head to the following source links.

Nintendo Preview Event video stream
New Friend Codes system (photo)
Launch date and price
List of games in launch window
4 Million 3DS at launch
Nintendo DS sales figures

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