Nintendo has announced a new version of its DS handheld system that will support 3D games. The 3DS will play games with 3D effects "without the need for any special glasses", according to the Japanese company. It will launch during its coming fiscal year, meaning it could arrive any time between April 2010 and March 2011.
Nintendo describes the system as a successor to the DS series, but it will also play DS and DSi titles. The 3DS is a temporary name according to Nintendo's perfunctory press release, but more details on the machine will be revealed at this year's Electronic Entertainment Expo. This year's show will return to the Los Angeles Convention Center from June 15-17.
[UPDATE] Though Nintendo's official announcement of the 3DS was light on information, additional details on the upcoming handheld appear to have surfaced from Japanese business daily Nikkei. The newspaper's online edition reports that the 3DS will feature a thumb stick for controlling movement in a 3D plane as well as rumble functionality. The handheld will also reportedly feature greatly enhanced battery life, improved network connectivity, and a screen size that's smaller than four inches.
Nikkei also narrowed the release window of the 3DS, saying it will arrive during the back half of 2010. However, it is unclear whether that date holds true for Japan alone or the rest of the globe as well. Notably, Nintendo released the DSi XL last November in Japan (where it is known as the LL), and it went on to sell some 700,000 units by year's end. The system's Western rollout, however, hasn't come until this month.
As for the rationale behind the announcement's timing, Nikkei reports that the publisher is looking to counter flagging DS software sales. Nintendo saw DS software plummet between April and December 2009, reporting game sales that fell from 163.78 million units to 121.38 million units during the nine-month period.
The original DS was launched back in 2004 in the US and Japan and 2005 in Europe and Australia. Since then, the DS Lite and DSi have been launched worldwide, slimming the machine down and offering brighter screens. The DSi XL is the latest version of the hardware and launched earlier this month in Europe and is set to arrive in the US on March 28. Through December 2009, Nintendo's DS series has logged salesin excess of 125 million units worldwide.
Earlier this year, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said a new DS would feature a "high level of visual quality," as well as sensors to read a player's movements. However, he has also been dismissive of existing 3D technology, saying, ''I have doubts whether people will be wearing glasses to play games at home. How is that going to look to other people?"
Late last year, Sony revealed PlayStation 3 support for 3D games via a firmware upgrade due for release this summer.