Nintendo President Satoru Iwata made the announcement at a Wednesday news conference in Chiba, Japan, which is near Tokyo. The 3DS, the latest generation of the DS line of portables, is unique in that people can play 3D games and view 3D content without the use of special glasses.
Iwata said the 3DS would be released first in Japan Feb. 26 and in Europe, Australia and the U.S. the next month. Specific launch dates will be released in each country separately.
Nintendo is hoping the 3DS can put the company back on track after seeing sales plummet for its Wii video-game console and DS portables. In making Wednesday's product announcement, the company slashed by more than half its forecast for net profits in the fiscal year that runs through March 2011 and cut it sales forecast by 21%. The company now expects profits of 90 billion yen, or roughly $1.1 billion at today exchange rate. Nintendo's previous forecast was for 200 billion yen.
The company blamed the lower forecasts on a stronger-than-expected yen to the dollar, but also acknowledged that sales had not met expectations. Indeed, U.S. retail sales of the Wii in August reached their lowest in a single month since the console was launched in November 2006, according to The NPD Group. In fact, the Wii's performance was a major contributor to the 10% drop year over year in overall sales for the video-game market.
Nintendo hopes to reverse its slump with the 3DS. The company expects to sell 4 million units and 15 million software titles in the first month the 3DS will be available from the time it is released to the end of the current fiscal year.
The 3DS in Japan will sell for 25,000 yen, or $298. The device is able to create the 3D illusion in games and images through a filter over its 3.5-inch display that sends slightly different images to the viewer's right and left eye. The 3D screen can go to 2D mode by moving a slider switch near the display.
Among the top software titles that will be available when the 3DS is released is Capcom's "Resident Evil: Revelations," Konami's "Metal Gear Solid Snake Eater," and Nintendo's "Nintendogs + cats." More than 70 titles are under development for the 3DS, according to Nintendo.
In launching the 3DS next February, Nintendo will miss this year's holiday shopping season. However, this season will see a crowded video-game market as Sony and Microsoft will be pushing new motion-sensing hardware for the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 consoles, respectively.
Nintendo first released the DS portable in 2004. Since then, the company has sold more than 130 million units of the original and the several revisions that followed.