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Analysts: 3D will set Nintendo apart

3DS can reboot flagging DS market.

The introduction of 3D to Nintendo's new handheld will likely breathe new life into the flagging DS market, according to industry analysts.

And it's expected that Nintendo will now hold a significant advantage over rival portable systems, such as Apple's iPhone and Sony's PSP system, by adopting and pushing a 3D agenda.

"Any new hardware, especially ones designed by Nintendo, will instantly get the third-party community excited about development," EEDAR's Jesse Divnich told our sister site GamesIndustry.biz.

"There is some inherent risk with going 3D, because the technology is still new and not yet an accepted standard in any entertainment industry; however, Nintendo is known for being well ahead of the curve." He added: "Even without the 3D, just being more powerful is still a refreshing announcement."

"I think Nintendo is right to keep innovating to protect its market share," offered Piers Harding-Rolls of Screen Digest. "There has been increasing pressure from the smartphone market, but generally Nintendo targets consumers that are commonly younger or older than both smartphone or PSP users.

"I believe it will keep on targeting these types of consumers and looking to differentiate itself in the market."

The DS market slowed in 2009, with publishers such as Ubisoft publicly stating they were moving from the system, as sales dropped and piracy continued to soar. But Harding-Rolls said that with the right buzz and early sales, there's no reason why Nintendo handheld gaming shouldn't become an attractive option once again.

"If it sells in significant numbers and proves popular then publishers will come," he said. "Some publishers will inevitably be more aggressive on the platform if they feel it has strong potential and will take the risk to invest earlier for launch or shortly after."

Divnich was very upbeat about Nintendo embracing 3D in games, echoing Andrew Oliver's comments that it will help the industry explore 3D gaming much more quickly.

"Nintendo jumping into 3D gaming is monumental to the 3D gaming movement," he said. "I think 3D gaming, with Nintendo's approval, will become an extended fad, but the word 'fad' carries way too many negative connotations when it shouldn't.

"Fads can last up to five years, and if some type of 3D gaming 'fad' can do the same, that would be huge for Nintendo. Some regard the Wii as a 'fad', and I don't in any way consider that a negative. Nintendo banked nearly $3 billion in profits because of the 'Wii fad'."

However, piracy could still remain an issue if Nintendo intends to continue its support for software delivered via cartridges - a favoured method due to cheap manufacturing costs.

"I would expect Nintendo to upgrade its anti-piracy measures on its new handheld," said Harding-Rolls. "This will help resist piracy, but it is likely to be cracked in the future like most games platforms."

"Piracy is always a cat and mouse game," added Divnich. "The only way to truly reset the game is to introduce new hardware with a new architecture.

"At least for the first few years piracy won't be an issue on a new Nintendo handheld, but long-term I don't see how you can truly stop piracy if your hardware accept archaic cartridges."