Nintendo has enjoyed great success with the DS portable game system over the last few years, and in many months, has sold many more DS than home consoles. When Nintendo announced that the next version of the DS system would feature glasses-less 3D, I was excited. The 3DS is scheduled to come out close to my birthday, how perfect is that? Later, as more details emerged, and I thought more about it, I’m not so sure Nintendo has a winner this time. Here are five reasons why I think the Nintendo 3DS might not do so well.
The Nintendo 3DS will be available March 27 for $250. To put that in perspective, that’s $110 more than the current DSi system, and $50 more than a home Wii system. Will parents think $250 is a reasonable price for a portable system for their children? Will adult gamers want to pay that much for themselves? It is a hefty price tag for a consumer electronics item that just plays games.
Games may be expensive also. The handheld competitor, iPod Touch, has hundreds of games for $.99 or even free. Current DS games are between $30-35, but 3DS games are rumored to be in the $40-$45 range. One could certainly argue that DS games offer a richer, deeper experience than games on the Apple marketplace, but the price disparity cannot be ignored.
2. Battery life
The current DSi can play games on one charge for 15-19 hours. Because of the increased processing power in the 3DS, it can play 3D games for only 3-5 hours and old/2D DS games for 5-8 hours. 3 hours of playing time for a portable system is very short. With the high price tag, and Nintendo’s record of releasing better hardware soon after original launch, some like myself may wait on purchasing the system at launch.
3. Input method.
After 4 versions, the 3DS is still using a stylus. In my opinion, this is antiquated. People are becoming much more used to direct finger contact to screens, and no one likes having to dig through the couch cushions for a lost stylus. It is 2011, can we just use our hands?
4. Vision concerns.
Nintendo has warned children under 6 should not use the 3D capabilities of the 3DS. Nintendo Reggie Fils-Aime stated, “We will recommend that very young children not look at 3-D images. That’s because, (in) young children, the muscles for the eyes are not fully formed.” Nintendo also cautions all users to take breaks every 30 minutes of play. Do I think the 3DS will harm your eyes? No, and neither does the American Optometric Association. I still maintain that fear of damaging their children’s eyes will stop many parents from buying a 3DS.
I’ve already hinted at the real challenge Nintendo faces with the 3DS launch: Apple. Many people already have a portable device with them that has hundreds of games available instantly at a very low price. The iPhone is now a gaming platform, even if people don’t consider it one. I’m seeing more and more iPod Touches in the hands of children and teens in malls and restaurants. Will 3D be enough of a gimmick to draw gamers on the go this year? We’ll see.