With more handheld devices becoming available in the coming months (in the form of smartphones and tablets), Nintendo is looking to maintain its comfortable lead in the handheld gaming world with its 3DS system.
The device, which will be available in the United States on March 27, allows users three-dimensional gaming without the requirement of glasses or visual assistance. According to the company, the top screen of the device displaying three-dimensional images gives the characters and the game space added depth. (In a release, the company likened the experience to looking through a window.)
Priced at under $250, the device has a few things going for it that should help Nintendo to maintain its advantage in market share, according to Michael Pachter, a research analyst at Wedbush Securities. "I think the price point is compelling and at $249, I think they're going to sell out," he tells Marketing Daily, predicting sales of about 2 million a month. "Net-net, it's a big win for Nintendo."
Another advantage the system will have is a large slate of games, Pachter says. Through the game's launch window (which runs from March 27 to the E3 gaming expo in early June), more than 30 games will be available for the system, according to Nintendo.
"I was pleasantly surprised with the number of titles through the launch window," Pachter says. "Thirty titles is a lot. That means anyone who can get their hands on this is going to have a lot of chances to play games."
That's not to say the game won't have some hurdles. While the game is likely to be a success initially ("You won't see one on the shelf through 2011," Pachter says), it's likely the other platforms will respond with their own version of glasses-free 3D in the future. "The real question is if [the 3DS] will last more than a year," he says.
Nintendo issued a warning earlier this year that playing the 3D games was not recommended for children under six because it may adversely affect their vision. The company also recommended that people take hourly breaks from the 3D games, which could cause fatigue and discomfort.
It was unknown how Nintendo might address those concerns when marketing for the product begins in advance of the launch. A Nintendo representative declined an interview request to speak about the product's marketing. For his part, however, Pachter said he was not concerned about its effect on sales.
"The same warning exists on every single 3D television," he says. "You still get a warning on every DS game that says 'prolonged exposure could cause seizures,' and I've never seen it addressed by a parent. This is really an issue for the media."