Nintendo admits 3DS warning could affect sales

Nintendo president says recent announcement acknowledging the 3DS portable gaming device might be harmful to young kids' eyes could hurt sales. But the device is not "dangerous," he says.

Don Reisinger
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
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Nintendo 3DS
Nintendo 3DS Nintendo

Nintendo has admitted that sales of its upcoming 3DS portable-gaming device could be hurt because of the company's recent announcement that the device could negatively affect a child's eyesight.

"We are being proactive about informing our customer, even though it may not necessarily be positive for our sales," Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal today.

Iwata was specifically citing a recent announcement on the Nintendo Web site, saying that the 3DS, which allows users to play games in 3D without requiring glasses, might cause children "under the age of six" to experience "a potential impact on the growth" on their eyes. Nintendo said that the portable has a 2D mode, which is recommended for children in that age bracket.

Nintendo also recommended "standard hourly breaks," and acknowledged that its device could "cause symptoms such as fatigue or discomfort." However, Iwata was quick to point out to the Journal that the 3DS is in no way "dangerous."

Over the past year, Nintendo's sales have been struggling. During the six-month period ended September 30, the company posted a $24.6 million loss on weak Wii and DS sales. Through 2010, it sold 7 million Wii units, down from the nearly 10 million units it sold in 2009. The 3DS is expected to be the device that helps buoy both Nintendo's portable sales and companywide revenue.

Iwata didn't say how much he expects the company's financials to get hit because of concern about the potential health issues related to the 3DS, but he told the Journal that Nintendo expects to sell 4 million 3DS units by the end of March.

Nintendo's 3DS is scheduled to go on sale in Japan on February 26 for about $300. It should be hitting store shelves in the U.S. in March. The U.S. price has not been disclosed.