After 10 months of teasing, Nintendo has answered the biggest lingering questions about its next handheld: How much will the Nintendo 3DS cost, and when can you get it?
At $250, the Nintendo 3DS is almost twice the price of the DS Lite, and $100 more expensive than the DSi. It’s the most expensive handheld Nintendo has ever launched, and ties the Wii for Nintendo’s priciest hardware launch ever (if you don’t adjust for inflation).
In other words, the 3DS will be Nintendo’s toughest sell yet. That’s not to say it won’t sell — if the comments on Joystiq are any indication, there are plenty of Nintendo fans who think $250 is a steal — but 2D Nintendo DS systems aren’t going away, and they’re going to make great competition for as long as Nintendo sells them. For publishers, the base of existing Nintendo DS customers is too massive to ignore.
I think Nintendo gets all this. After launch, Nintendo will kick off a marketing campaign to put the 3DS in peoples’ hands at public events, the company told me during an interview I conducted at CES for PC World. Nintendo needs to show people the actual product, because 3D is hard to market in TV and print ads. Whether this outreach will match Microsoft’s marketing efforts for Kinect is unclear.
I’m not at the New York press event where Nintendo is revealing all its 3DS launch details, so I’ll defer to sites like Kotaku and Joystiq for the nitty gritty, but here are a few tidbits that I found interesting:
- The 3DS’ “launch window” spans more than two months, and will see the release of 30 games.
- It multitasks, meaning that you can duck out of a game to take notes or snap a photo, and then pick up where you left off.
- The 3DS will include a deck of six augmented reality cards, which create interactive 3D mini-games when spotted by the device’s rear-facing camera. We knew this already, but it was the neatest tech demo Nintendo showed me during CES.
- Friend codes are the broken system Nintendo uses to connect consoles over the Internet. On the 3DS, at least, users will get one code for the hardware, and that’s it. No more lengthy friend codes tied to each individual game.
- 3D and augmented reality aside, the 3DS’ most important feature could be its analog stick.