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Nintendo 3DS gets first major update

The game company says the free update will go live on June 6, providing users with an Internet browser and access to the company's new eShop.

Nintendo is upping the ante on the 3DS.
Nintendo is upping the ante on the 3DS. Nintendo

Nintendo next week plans to launch the first major update to its 3DS portable.

Owners of the 3DS will be able to download the free update on June 6, the company announced today. When they do so, they will find a new Web browser on the platform, as well as Nintendo's eShop.

The device's browser allows for regular Web surfing, but also supports 3D content. So, if a user browses to a page that has 3D content, it can be viewed from the portable.

Nintendo's eShop is a content-downloading service, featuring applications, product information, and game trailers. According to Nintendo, users will also find "original 3D software, classic games that have been remastered in 3D, called 3D Classics, Game Boy and Game Boy Color Virtual Console games, and more than 350 Nintendo DSiWare games." Nintendo's eShop will be updated each Thursday with new content.

Nintendo's update comes just a little over a month after CEO Satoru Iwata discussed with investors his plans to improve the 3DS sales pitch. During its last fiscal year ended, March 31, Nintendo sold 3.61 million 3DS units, missing its target of 4 million 3DS units sold before the end of the period. Obviously disappointed, Iwata pointed to the 3DS' functionality, which allows gamers to play titles and watch content in 3D without the need for special glasses, as the problem.

"The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media," Iwata said to investors. "However, we have found that people cannot feel it just by trying out a device, rather, some might even misestimate it when experiencing the images in an improper fashion. This makes it more important to give people more opportunities for appropriate experiences of glassless 3D images."

Iwata told investors that he planned to unveil several new features on the 3DS to make it a more appealing option to consumers. The company's eShop and Web browser were part of that. He also said that Nintendo plans to launch a "3D video distribution service."

In today's press release announcing eShop, the game company mentioned that video service, saying that it would be launching on the 3DS "in the near feature." Nintendo said that the video platform would feature 3D movie trailers, music videos, and comedy clips.

Whether or not all those updates will actually get consumers to buy a 3DS remains to be seen. As Iwata pointed out in April, internal research has shown that "many people feel that they 'want' and 'want to buy' Nintendo 3DS [but] not that many people believe 'now is the time to buy it.'"

To further sweeten the pot to get current users to download the update and to get new customers to finally buy the 3DS, Nintendo is throwing in a free download of Nintendo Entertainment System classic ExciteBike. The game has been remastered in 3D for the 3DS, and it will be available to those who update their portable between June 6 and July 7.