Nintendo 3DS

Nintendo launches new 3D handheld gaming device

Despite growing competition from smartphones including Apple’s iPhone, gaming giant Nintendo has ambitious goals for its new 3DS - the first device to offer 3D gaming without special glasses.

The Japanese company hopes to boost its flagging growth with the new device and says its adoption could be even faster than the original DS device, which launched in 2004 and has sold 150 million units to date.

Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime said: “We’ve set the high water bar for a handheld device and our goal is to try to beat that.”

However just hours after it went on sale in Japan last month hackers had managed to modify the device and get it to run older, pirated DS games using a third-party flash memory cartridge.

Hacker group R4i said they expected Nintendo to respond to the breach by releasing an update blocking this third-party memory carts.

The 3DS will go on sale in the United States on March 27 and Nintendo hopes it can compete in the mobile market as the iPhone and Android smartphones have become more robust gaming platforms.

And the market could become even tougher for the 3DS when Sony launches a next-generation handheld gaming device at the end of the year, codenamed “NGP”.

However Fils-Aime denied that significant changes in the market including the rise of smartphone gaming had impacted on Nintendo.

"We're not influenced by what competitive forces are out there. In the end content is what is going to drive the purchase behaviour," he said.

Nintendo plans to position the 3DS as a full-purpose entertainment product with games as well as streaming 2D and 3D video content.

This follows the success of the Wii, a pioneering motion-based gaming console released in 2006 which has been a smash hit with customers and has prompted Sony and Microsoft to release their own gesture-based gaming devices.

It has sold more than 85 million units since launch, far more than Microsoft's Xbox 360 or Sony's PlayStation 3.

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