Nintendo’s Big, Pricey Bet On 3D

Nintendo’s Big, Pricey Bet On 3D

Would you pay $US250 for 3D gaming, movie watching and picture taking you can carry in your pocket?

That’s the question Nintendo is gambling on this spring when it rolls out its latest in a long a series of what has been traditionally incredible popular portable gaming consoles.

The 3DS hits the US on March 27 for $US250, the same price that Nintendo launched their incredibly popular Wii console for in 2006.

That $US250 price tag puts it in direct competition with the current line-up of consoles, with the Wii and Xbox 360 both now selling for $US200 and the PlayStation 3 selling for $US300.

The 3DS also faces some stiff competition among other portable gaming systems. The iPod touch, an increasingly popular gaming device for tween and teens, starts at $US229 and Sony’s PlayStation Portable sells for $US170. And later this week at an event in Tokyo, Sony is expected to announce details for their PlayStation Portable 2, a device rumoured to have a touch surface, 3G connectivity and more power than an Xbox 360.

Fortunately, the 3GS seems to have something no other portable handheld, or home console can deliver: The ability to play games, look at pictures and watch movies in 3D with out the need to wear glasses.

The first time I saw the technology in person it was an almost magical experience, leaving me with a feeling that I needed to remove the glasses I wasn’t wearing when I was done.

The 3D gaming options that Nintendo is offering up on the device so far, though, aren’t that impressive. With just eight or so weeks until the pricey device hits, no single game seems to be standing out as a must-own, must-buy title.

But I think that won’t be a problem in the short run. The biggest selling point for the 3DS early on could easily be the non-gaming things you can do with the device in 3D and some of its other bells and whistles.

While the ability to watch Hollywood movies in 3D on a handheld is a huge plus for the system, Nintendo still hasn’t announced any movies that will be available when the system hits in the US.

But what 3DS owners will be able to do is take pictures in 3D with the device and then view them instantly on their screen. While I don’t see people picking up the 3DS just for this ability, I think it’s the sort of gee-wiz technology that could help buoy the launch of the portable as Nintendo works to line up their top-tier titles and movies in the months leading away from the 3DS hitting.

It will be Nintendo’s ability to attract top games from top developers and to deliver their own big name originals to the platform that will eventually make or break the console.

While I’m sure it will sell out when it hits stores on March 27, in many ways this early launch of the device is aimed at early adopters and those willing to pay a premium for the latest gadgets and toys.

Come this holiday season I expect to see a much broader game and movie line-up for the device and hope for a more reasonable price.

Well Played is a weekly news and opinion column about the big stories of the week in the gaming industry and its bigger impact on things to come. Feel free to join in the discussion.


  • Well, the DSi XL still sells here for AUD$299/$279 so the 3DS @USD$250 doesn’t seem outrageous.

    I own a Fuji W3 3D camera, and the built in 3D screen on that is great (on the W1 it was pretty ordinary), so even just for 3D photo fun I can see that as enough of an ‘extra’ justification to get one.
    Kids will break their parent’s arms off once they see the 3D screen in action and realise they can take 3D photos of their cat.

    I just hope they made it relatively ‘R4’ proof this time.

  • I would gladly pay US$250 for the 3DS at launch. That actually seems like a pretty fair price, to be completely honest; not necessarily a bargain, but fair. The problem is that that price will probably be inflated to AU$350-400, and that’s a different proposition entirely. But no, go on, Americans. Whinge about your price.

    • I’d consider $250 for a 3DS a bargain. Its going to be about $350-400 here. $250 is the same price as a Wii here atm basically. Its less expensive than a DSi XL and all the other current gen consoles. Its actually a very good price (for aussies) for the tech.

      I completely agree about getting pissed when American’s complain about the price. But remember they might not get as higher wages? Its just because our dollars are about the same value it seems cheap.

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