Confident Fils-Aime Touts Nintendo 3DS Mass Market Appeal

Nintendo's Reggie Fils-Aime touted the 3DS as more than just a 3D gaming device, adding that the $250 handheld is "mass market ready, right off the bat," Gamasutra editor-at-large Chris Morris reported from New York.
The morning started a bit awkwardly for Reggie Fils-Aime,‭ ‬but by the end of his presentation,‭ ‬announcing the launch details of the Nintendo‭ ‬3DS at a Gamasutra-attended press conference in New York,‭ ‬he was firmly in charge. Walking out to a dead teleprompter,‭ ‬the normally unflappable president and chief operating officer jokingly accused Wedbush game analyst Michael Pachter of having unplugged the monitors. Before long,‭ ‬he was going strong,‭ ‬teasing the media and analysts in attendance with developer testimonials videos and a feature rundown of the device before ultimately announcing what everyone was here to hear:‭ ‬The‭ ‬3DS will go on sale March‭ ‬27‭ ‬for‭ ‬$249.99 in the U.S. "This is the next big step in the modern era of video games,"‭ ‬said Fils-Aime. "The Nintendo‭ ‬3DS is‭ ‬3D games,‭ ‬plus‭ ‬3D video,‭ ‬plus‭ ‬3D photography.‭ ‬There are no special glasses or skills required to enjoy it...‭ ‬And above all,‭ ‬the Nintendo‭ ‬3DS is distinct.‭ ‬It's a breakthrough.‭ ‬There's nothing else like it.‭ ‬It is truly a category of one." Analysts in the audience were happy with the price point,‭ ‬saying it was affordable enough that consumers wouldn’t suffer from sticker shock --‭ ‬but high enough that the company was likely to make a profit from hardware sales.‭ Fils-Aime played up the mass market potential of the‭ ‬3DS,‭ ‬emphasizing titles like‭ ‬Nintendogs and Cats.‭ ‬He also focused on the social aspects of the device,‭ ‬including the StreetPass feature and SpotPass‭ -- ‬an online mode that adds WiFi functionality.‭ The company did not follow-up on hints it dropped at E3‭ ‬about working with Hollywood studios to offer‭ ‬3D theatrical releases for viewing on the‭ ‬3DS,‭ ‬with Fils-Aime only saying‭ "‬more to come"‭ ‬when asked after the event.‭ ‬However,‭ ‬Nintendo made it clear that gaming was not the end of its aspirations for the‭ ‬3DS. "While Nintendo is recognized by so many people as a game company,‭ ‬we’ve always seen ourselves as a part of a much larger entertainment industry,"‭ ‬he said. The‭ ‬3DS will be supported by a marketing campaign that's nearly on par with what Microsoft threw for Xbox 360's Kinect sensor.‭ ‬Nintendo plans to have‭ ‬5,000‭ ‬units in retail stores to let consumers experience the‭ ‬3DS.‭ ‬It will also have mobile units on the streets of major cities to boost awareness.‭ ‬Fils-Aime said the company hopes to get the device in front of‭ ‬400,000‭ ‬people in its first eight weeks on shelves.‭ Building on the momentum the company has built with the Wii and its Wii Fit software,‭ ‬Nintendo is also extending fitness aspects to the‭ ‬3DS.‭ ‬One game on display‭ -- ‬Steel Diver --‭ ‬foregoes the use of the D-pad and other hand controls and relies on the player to physically move to change the onscreen view.‭ The system also comes with an activity log that tracks users' physical movements‭ (‬as well as virtual actions‭) ‬and a pedometer that encourages users to walk‭ -- ‬and rewards them with play coins that can be used to buy bonus content in games.‭ "The system‭ …‬offers more than enough for people who have never played a video game before,"‭ ‬said Fils-Aime.‭ "‬Right off the bat,‭ ‬it’s mass market ready." That might not be exactly what core gamers want to hear,‭ ‬but it's a strategy that has been the key to Nintendo's success over the past seven years.‭ ‬And it's one the company is hoping is strong enough to fend off the growing threat from Apple,‭ ‬which has been luring potential customers away with the low-priced, bite-sized games on the iPhone and iPod Touch.

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