Nintendo 3DS to get big November push

The game company says it will offer an update that month, as well as two major titles--Super Mario 3D Land and The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
3 min read
November looks to be a big month for the Nintendo 3DS.
November looks to be a big month for the Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo

Nintendo is looking to November to be a big month for its 3DS portable.

The game company announced yesterday that it plans to launch a 3DS update in November that will allow users to capture 3D video with the device. According to Nintendo, after capturing the video, users will be able to "create their own original 3D productions," and then view them on the portable.

In addition, Nintendo is waiting until November to offer up its most anticipated titles. On November 13, Nintendo will launch Super Mario 3D Land, the first-ever "true" 3D Mario game. Just one week later, the game company will offer up The Legend of Zelda: Skyward Sword, the latest entrant in the famed franchise. According to Nintendo, Skyward Sword will come with over 100 minutes of cut scenes.

Nintendo's 3DS has quickly become the focal point of the company's performance. Nintendo has a long history of offering portable devices, including the Game Boy and DS, that have proven wildly popular around the world. But so far, the 3DS has fallen short of expectations. In fact, during Nintendo's last-reported quarter, ended June 30, the game company sold just 710,000 3DS units worldwide, including 110,000 units in the U.S.

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In response, Nintendo dropped the price of its 3DS to $169.99 from $249.99 last month in order to drum up demand for the device.

So far, it appears that it worked. Nintendo reported last week that it sold 235,000 3DS units in August, putting it in second place behind the Xbox 360 in total hardware sales. Nintendo said that sales during the 19-day period after it dropped the price of its 3DS last month were 260 percent higher than a comparable 19-day period in July.

What's more, Nintendo wants to try to extend the functionality of its 3DS to appeal more to gamers. The company has confirmed that it will start selling an attachment, called the Circle Pad, that will bring a right thumbstick to the portable. Earlier today, Nintendo announced on its Web site that the Circle Pad will be available on December 10 in Japan for 1,500 yen (about $19.50). So far, Nintendo hasn't revealed pricing or availability in the U.S., and spokespeople for the company have not immediately responded to CNET's request for comment.

When the Circle Pad is made available, few games will initially support it. A list (Google Translate) of supported software on Nintendo's site reveals that just one game--Monster Hunter Tri G--will be available when the Circle Pad launches. Biohazard Revelations, Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater 3D, and Ace Combat 3D Cross Rumble will support the right thumbstick when they launch early next year.

But even with a right thumbstick, new games, and an update coming to the 3DS, there's no telling if Nintendo can overcome the inherent issue with the portable: users aren't easily seeing value in its 3D images.

"The value of 3D images without the need for special glasses is hard to be understood through the existing media," Nintendo chief Satoru Iwata said during a company earnings call in April. "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."

It gets worse. Iwata also told investors in April that Nintendo research has revealed that "not that many people believe 'now is the time to buy [the 3DS].'"

"There is no easy road to making people understand the attraction of glassless 3D images and making Nintendo 3DS widespread," Iwata continued.