Nintendo’s 3DS got off to a rocky start when it launched in March of this year, so much so that it ultimately resulted in a price slash.
But the 3-D handheld gaming device has gotten a boost from recent game releases, and the gaming giant hopes two more items will keep the hardware’s momentum going for the holiday season.
This Sunday, Nintendo will release Mario Kart 7 for 3DS. It’s the second game in the Mario franchise aimed at the portable device in the past two weeks. Retailing for $39.99, Mario Kart 7 includes new courses and kart abilities and supports the 3DS StreetPass feature, which allows users to wirelessly connect to other “Mii” characters as they pass each other on the street or are in the vicinity of each other.
The company also plans to release a pink version of the 3DS, bundled with one of its Nintendogs + Cats games. The pink 3DS will cost $169.99 in the U.S., the same price as the standard Nintendo 3DS system. Nintendo had previously said a pink version was aimed at girls (sigh, but they do like lots of other colors, too).
The Nintendo 3DS, the company’s first 3-D portable gaming handset, hit the U.S. in March, at a price of $249.99. The device has an autostereoscopic screen — which means glasses aren’t required to see the 3-D imagery — and a depth slider that adjusts the intensity of the 3-D.
Consumers were less than thrilled by the 3DS, with many citing vision problems and high game prices, forcing Nintendo to later reduce the price. The move resulted in a 260 percent sales jump, with Nintendo selling 235,000 units in August, ranking it the second-best-selling piece of gaming hardware in the U.S. that month.
The 3DS got another boost when Nintendo’s Super Mario 3D Land game became available Thanksgiving week, as part of a bundle with a red 3DS. Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aime said the game was the fastest-selling portable Mario game in Nintendo’s history, and that interest in the game drove hardware sales up 49 percent.
“We believe more and more that software drives hardware,” Fils-Aime said.
Fils-Aime said Nintendo continues to invest in 3-D technology in terms of content, but for now, consumers shouldn’t hold their breath for a next-generation 3DS.
“I wouldn’t expect a complete redesign of the hardware in the near-term,” he said.
In addition to the new pink model, Nintendo 3DS is available in the U.S. in blue, black and red. A white version of the device is sold in Japan, although Fils-Aime noted that Nintendo’s white handheld DS and DSi devices haven’t sold as well in the U.S. as other colors have.