Nintendo’s novel new glasses-free 3D portable the 3DS boasts quite a few features besides the obvious: Augmented Reality (AR) games, Wi-Fi multiplayer, a 3D camera and the newly-released eShop, which houses classics culled from the company’s past as well as new downloadable titles and movie trailers.
One feature that’s been lacking – at least in comparison to past Nintendo handhelds – is the ability to fly off store shelves.
The system hit the 1 million sold mark in Japan this week after over three months on store shelves – something video game news site Andriasang points out was accomplished much quicker by the original DS (one month), the DS lite revision (two months) and the more feature-rich DSi (two months).
Why the slow start? A recurring response has been the price tag. At $249 ($299 in Japan), it’s pricier than some home gaming consoles; the Wii was dropped to $149 in May. Others lament a lack of killer launch software, something which Nintendo itself arguably conceded when James Honeywell, a marketing manager for Nintendo’s UK branch, told CVG prior to the 3DS’ European launch that “the software built into it” (“Face Raiders,” an AR game that utilized cards included with the system) was the killer app.
The Wall Street Journal believes one aspect that may sway fence-sitters is the 3DS’ social networking functionality – specifically StreetPass, which lets 3DS owners “socialize” by sharing information and Mii avatars with each other wirelessly.
The site muses that StreetPass could be “built into games to add a social layer to 3DS titles in the mold of Zynga’s Facebook games” – something it says is especially important if you believe that dedicated handheld gaming systems are under fire from more flexible devices, such as tablets and smartphones.
If developers are indeed “thinking long and hard” about StreetPass’ implications for mobile gaming as Satoru Iwata, President of Nintendo, says they are, then it shouldn’t be much longer until we see the fruits of their labors and gauge if it actually helped talk more gamers out of $250 or not.
Bought a 3DS already? Waiting on a price drop? New games? That pie-in-the-sky social networking app that makes it a ‘must-buy’? Let us know in the comment section.