Nintendo sold some 6.5 million software units in Japan during the financial year to 31st March, placing at the top of the charts. But for how long? The future of the GameCube in the US and Europe looks bleaker every day and Sony are about to launch an assault on Nintendo’s strongest market area: the portable games console.
The Electronics Entertainment Expo (E3, Los Angeles, May) will be the battle of the handhelds: Sony and Nintendo will be unveiling their new portable hardware to expectant crowds. We already know a lot about Sony’s PSP: the disk format, connectivity, what it looks like, even down to the wrist strap. But what about Nintendo’s “DS”?
Details of the new Nintendo offering are sketchy and strange: it has two screens, one of which may be a touch screen. The Nintendo DS is touted as a new game play experience, but may end up dividing their market still further between products: the GBA, GBA SP and the new DS. Consumers are still confused as to what the two screen experience will bring – and Nintendo isn’t spoiling the surprise. Connectivity details are still sparse: Sony has been promoting connectivity with its PS2, PSX and PS3 products, but Nintendo have had a series of disappointments with GBA/GameCube link ups, and it’s never fully reached their expectations. Except with Animal Crossing of course, and only if you don’t use an GBA SP.
We’re are somewhat unsure of the new Nintendo offering, at least until much more is known about the console. There have been some unfortunate comparisons with Nintendo’s own VirtualBoy, which also promised a new game play experience (with two screens, oddly enough). The VirtualBoy died a horrible death, but like many doomed consoles is popular on eBay.
We’ll soon have the full picture: Nintendo are rumoured to be announcing 30 DS titles at E3, and the console itself will be out, at least in Japan, by the end of the year.
With Sony’s PSP looking to be a winner, at least in the West, the future is uncertain for Nintendo’s hand held dominance.
PSP technical specs
Reuters on Nintendo’s success