The Nintendo Wii is the only home console to have sold more than seven million units in three consecutive years. The standard economics of the gaming and hardware industry would have it that Wii sales would peak in its second year on sale and then see a gradual decline, yet Wii peaked in its third year. The immensely popular Nintendo DS has sold over 150 million units worldwide and is part of a long line of successful handheld consoles from Nintendo. Now, Nintendo are hoping that their upcoming handheld console, the Nintendo 3DS, will push new boundaries in terms of gameplay and sales – and chances are it will.

In fact, to an extent, it already has. The 3DS was recently released in Japan, and inevitably there was the usual outburst of Nintendo fans queuing for days and coming from all over the world to claim their new console. In it’s first week, Nintendo sold 400,000 3DS consoles in Japan. In the United Kingdom, the 3DS has already broken the British console pre-order record, with an estimated 100,000 pre-orders on hold. In Japan, more or less 100% of DS purchases were pre-orders, with some fans offering hundreds of dollars to buy somebody’s pre-order. Meanwhile, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime suggested that the 3DS’s adoption will be even faster than the original DS device. “From our perspective, we’ve set the high water bar for a handheld device and our goal is to try to beat that,” he said.

The actual mechanics of the 3DS are refreshing. Often, the 3D ‘craze’ which began with films where one would wear 3D glasses is often accused of being cheap or gimmicky. But a key aspect of the 3DS is that it projects a 3D image without the need of any glass – all you need are your own two eyes. Also, the 3DS will have its own virtual console which allows users to connect to the internet and download games and applications. For example, you can download old-school Nintendo handheld games such as The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening. Finally, the DS has an amazing line-up of games confirmed. Mario, Zelda, Kirby and other Nintendo series are on the cards. Skyward Sword may be coming to the Wii, but a new Zelda game is scheduled for release soon on the 3DS – a remake of Ocarina of Time. The screenshots and gameplay footage of the game look beautiful.

Still, the handheld market is much different than it was when the original DS was launched. Phones have become more popular and more advanced. They have turned into multi-purpose devices that people rely on on huge bases, and the key question is whether the 3DS will be able to cope with such a fierce handheld device market. But Reggie Fils-Aime isn’t too worried – “We’re not influenced by what competitive forces are out there,” he said.

“In the end content is what is going to drive the purchase behavior.”

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