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Nintendo 3DS gets bigger with 3DS XL announcement
Nintendo 3DS gets bigger with 3DS XL announcement
June 22, 2012 | By Staff

June 22, 2012 | By Staff
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    37 comments
More: Console/PC, Business/Marketing



At E3 in L.A. earlier this month, Nintendo was quiet about a rumored hardware update for its 3DS handheld.

But today, Nintendo officially unveiled the Nintendo 3DS XL, a larger version of the company's 3D stereoscopic handheld console.

Nintendo said the 3DS XL -- known as 3DS LL in Japan -- sports a 4.88-inch upper screen, and a 4.18-inch bottom touch screen, compared to the current 3DS' respective 3.53- and 3.02- inch screens (the DSi XL's screens were 4.2 inches).

The updated device is scheduled to hit North American retail, with a 4GB memory card, on August 19 for $199.99, strategically dated for the same day as New Super Mario Bros. 2's release. It will arrive at Japanese retail on July 28 for 18,900 yen ($235), and the same date in Europe (price to be announced).

Despite the significantly larger viewing areas, Nintendo said the 3DS XL will have a longer battery life than the current 3DS. 3DS software on the 3DS XL will allow players 3.5-6.5 hours of battery life, while DS software will allow for 6-10 hours. That's compared to the current 3DS' 3-5 hours and 5-8 hours, respectively.

Nintendo said since the February 26, 2011 Japanese launch of the 3DS, the company has sold-through an estimated 6.3 million units in Japan. As of the end of March this year, the company had sold over 17 million units globally.



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Comments


Ron Dippold
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And it doesn't even have the second pad. I know Miyamoto already said he didn't care about the 3DS and was already working on the Next Thing, but my god, they really don't care at all, do they?

Joseph Anthony B. A. Tanimowo-Reyes
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Nintendo would have been a fool to include a second pad.

Ron Dippold
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I know, I know, not when they can sell another separate circle pad expansion peripheral for this one too.

More seriously, this drives home that anyone working on Nintendo portable games who hasn't already fled to mobile is already working on that Next Gen DS.

Joe Zachery
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Had to post this twice since it clearly seems you guys have misunderstood what just happened.

I hope most of you figure out this is not a redesign of the 3DS. It's another option in the same way the DSiXL was another option for those who had bigger hands or bad eyes. Allow more people to purchase the console if they choose too. Adding a second pad would make it a redesign, and piss off everyone who bought the older model. Nintendo may do weird things, but they are not stupid. So their is no reason for anyone who already have a system to buy this unless they choice too.

Jason Withrow
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"another separate circle pad expansion peripheral for this one too."

Which makes me glad I got mine today, because they'll surely stop selling the old size. :(

Ron Dippold
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@Joe

Ehhh, since they already 'admitted' the lack of a second pad was a Bad Idea by releasing the hugely awkward circle pad pro I don't see any reason they couldn't have included it in the XL. As long as it still had the normal buttons. Existing 3DS owners would have no reason at all to be pissed off as long as nobody made any games that /required/ it. Which would be a silly thing to do as long as there are all those existing 3DSes out there.

And Nintendo has never, ever, been afraid of pissing off existing customers. They always just assume you'll buy their new thing as long as they get one of a few key franchises on it. Mario, Zelda, (now) Monster Crossing and Dragon Quest... It's no coincidence at all that new Animal Crossing news comes out right after the 3DS XL announcement.

Hakim Boukellif
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I think the real improvement here is actual buttons being used for Select/Home/Start, instead of the lousy membrane keys of the original model.

Hakim Boukellif
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I always hold Select+Start while loading up regular old DS games on a 3DS to keep it from upscaling them. Other than that, there are a few games that use it. Usually for things that don't directly affect your actions within the game, like toggling camera modes.

Jason Withrow
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I didn't mind the membrane keys until I tried to play Link's Awakening. Press A, B, Start and Select! With my third hand, I guess, because while I can reach those buttons, the membrane buttons just don't press the same way.

Jason Withrow
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I should mention that that's for saving, so is kind of important, but at the same time, it's not Nintendo's fault for that specific gaffe, it just gave me an issue with the membrane buttons.

William Johnson
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I'd have thought for sure Nintendo would have stolen Apple's idea from the iPad 3 and just crammed the thing full of lithium-ions. I'm disappointed. Well, I guess I'll still be holding off on buying a 3DS.

And I agree with Ron Dippold. Why would they not want to make the second circle pad standard? Hell, this could possibly act like a WiiU control replacement if it had that.

Joe Zachery
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I hope most of you figure out this is not a redesign of the 3DS. It's another option in the same way the DSiXL was another option for those who had bigger hands or bad eyes. Allow more people to purchase the console if they choose too. Adding a second pad would make it a redesign, and piss off everyone who bought the older model. Nintendo may do weird things, but they are not stupid. So their is no reason for anyone who already have a system to buy this unless they choice too.

Ujn Hunter
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Sweet! Being left handed and hoping that Nintendo would be bright enough to include the second analog pad on future models of the 3DS, I'm super disappointed. I guess I will never own a 3DS now.

Hakim Boukellif
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I'm not really seeing how it would make any difference unless you could also reconfigure the analogue nubs to switch functionality (and have the d-pad act as face buttons and vice versa, I guess?).

Just out of curiosity, what were left-handed people playing before dual directional input become something you could expect? As far as I'm aware, the only handheld that was designed with left-handed players in mind was the Atari Lynx.

William Johnson
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@Hakim Boukellif
It's a bit different when you need to control a nub pad and a stylist at the same time. A way to mirror the input would have been a smart design decision. The original DS was designed like this. I fail to understand Nintendo's thinking here. Did they just want to alienate left handed people, or did they think no one was going to design games to use the stylist and buttons at the same time anymore?

Hakim Boukellif
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@William
"or did they think no one was going to design games to use the stylist and buttons at the same time anymore?"
I'm pretty sure they don't, because that would be an ergonomic impossibility, regardless of which your dominant hand is. Certainly, there are games that require both the use of the touchscreen and the physical controls at the same time, but then it's either very crude touch controls you could do with a finger that don't require the dexterity of your dominant hand or physical controls limited to simple button presses (no advanced platforming or pulling Shouryuukens or anything like that).

William Johnson
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@Hakim Boukellif
Metroid Prime Hunters, Moon, Call of Duty, Kid Icarus: Uprising?

David Holmin
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Looks nice. If I get a 3DS, it'll probably be the XL one. I always thought my DS Lite screen was a little bit too small.

Matt Marquez
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Region locked?

Eric Pobirs
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For $199 I would have gotten this instead of my 3DS a few months ago for $150. The bigger screens are worth the one-time expenditure for me.

The 3DS is more portable of course but with it's limited battery life it isn't that good of a go everywhere choice. Street Pass is a completely wasted feature for me as my 3DS will rarely leave the house.

Not including the second pad is an obvious choice. They don't want to create a fork for developers. Keeping an add-on an add-on avoids that as developers know not to make a game dependent on the second pad. Going to two analog pads on a Nintendo handheld will have to wait until there is a new machine to be treated as a separate platform by developers. The 3DS and compatibles are locked into a single pad existence permanently. Get over it.

Merc Hoffner
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I personally find the bundled charging cradle makes limited battery a moot point - it's just so convenient on my bedside table and I more or less never play >3 hours away from home. I find my iPhone much more of a chore actually and wish Apple could come up with a convenient and standard solution. It's a bit upsetting that the XL doesn't come with the same, but then I guess the market they're targeting with a larger unit is more oldies and inherantly less portable. Plus the number of DSi format transformers out there is becoming pretty abusive of the environment.

I wonder, with the larger autostereoscopic screen, will Nintendo now make a bigger push for non-gaming 3D content? Netflix for DS still isn't available here in the UK.

Bob Johnson
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Yeah the battery life is a disappointment. IT loses battery quick as my kids have proved.

But ... the shorter battery life is a byproduct of better graphics and system processing power.

Not a ton they can do about it outside of user replaceable batteries or an external battery pack or heavier fatter 3ds with a bigger battery.

Eric Pobirs
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I wouldn't necessarily point to the Wii's lack of hardware revisions as an indication of anything other than how unambitious the Wii hardware was at launch, favoring the controller as the selling point. Remember, it's just a die shrink of the GameCube with some additional embedded and external RAM and some wireless functionality bolted on. And the Gamecube itself was designed to be very low cost in its generation. The group that designed the video portion of the chipset within ATI had much better functionality ready to roll that would have made a big difference going forward for both the Gamecube and Wii but they hit Nintendo's price ceiling.

That would have only been a temporary problem if the Gamecube ever received a die shrink (before becoming the Wii) but Nintendo said no. So the GC ended up with a pipeline that was two-thirds of a pixel shader but not all the way there.

That the Gamecube never got a die shrink and the Wii likewise is mainly due to the lack of advantage to be had from the effort and cost. On the Sony and Microsoft side, every reduction of power draw of heat output is to be pursued as these platforms were designed for a much greater lifespan and thus push the envelope on power and heat at launch. They continue to grow their base while Wii sales have largely died.

But which strategy is the best is a difficult call. Nintendo's primary failure has been in not anticpating better when the Wii would peak and having the next generation ready. The bad launch of the 3DS and need for a major price cut complicated that issue. The N64 was a dying market for nearly a year when the GameCube launched but it didn't cause severe pain to the company because the GBA was just hitting its stride and they could afford the transition. Failures in execution can ruin an otherwise effective strategy. Imagine how different things would be for Microsoft if the testing system for the Xbox 360 factories had not been delayed and they'd gotten a handle on their defect problem much sooner. Those little things can do a lot of damage.

Merc Hoffner
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I assume this is a reply to my comment higher up.

The hardware revisions aren't necessarily tied to individual die shrinks (and aren't necessarily driven only by cost, size and power either) - Nintendo could have shrunk the Wii several times (and probably has) but didn't revise the hardware until recently. Microsoft revised the die size, internal design and cooling solutions several times before changing the overall outward design that signals to the consumer: "this is a new one". They also revised the SKU to add HDMI (for a very neat 'premium' ironically over the "premium") while sticking with the same broken internals which is one of the costs of jumping the gun. Anyway, the GC's lack of die shrinks are as much tied to it's much smaller sales as to anything else - retooling for a unit that barely scraped >20 million probably isn't worth it, but >95 million is, and though I don't have the evidence, I'm sure Nintendo's shrunk the parts and reduced the costs and therefore had plenty of opportunities to rebuild a smaller leaner machine but opted not too. The Wii was small and simple enough. Is it still 90nm? I don't know, but I doubt it.

Moreover, the imperative for their competitors to shrink was largely cost based: those massive dies were losing them oodles. > $100 per part? That's killer. Their 'overpowering' capability were largely miscalculated at the beginning. Microsoft expected the parts to be much cheaper (360 was intended to be more cost effective than the Xbox afterall) and were knocked sideways by the costs of the first run. Then knocked sideways again by the RROD fiasco. Sony was double hit, again by expectations the parts would be cheaper (who saw a $100 blue laser diode coming! ouch), and by misjudging the market - the 10 year cycle strategy was predicated on them dominating the market and clearing out the competition as they had for two generations running, leaving an elongated period to recoup higher early losses than previous gens - their competitors had other ideas.

As for strategy, I can 100% hand on my heart say that Nintendo's strategy was better. They made more money. They made more sales. They brought in newer markets. They created more new ways to play. They were imitated. The sharp fall off in Wii sales has probably been driven as much by the greatest economic collapse since the great depression as by their competition getting wise (or for that matter the advent of iOS) - I can hardly blame Nintendo for not predicting the global economic recession more than Sony for not predicting $600 was too much money. Even then, Nintendo's handled the crisis better than Sony, and their sharp turnaround of 3DS vs Vita is a great case in point. Making a lower end system and pricing from a high point down makes you much more adaptive than starting with a powerhouse and trying to scrape together economy. It allows them to recover from those "Failures in execution" much more easily.

Andrew Chen
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Great discussion. Thinking quite a bit about Nintendo strategy this past cycle and going forward. (Many times it makes me more "lenient" when judging their decisions and messaging from events such as this past E3.)
About the depression and its effect on Wii sales however, if I recall annual unit sales in 2009 and 2010 (driven by killer holiday business) proved to be robust and 2011, as we know, not so much.

I think the reasons for collpasing sales were very much the fallout of the way they chose to do business and the trade offs inherent with each decision. Modest hardware allowed for an attractive and profitable sales price but set the lifespan shorter vs competiting platforms and also dictated the makeup of their makeup. Controller design provided needed differentiation and market expansion but (combined with hardware choices) dissuaded some key third party support.

Meanwhile, Nintendo's platform development strategy timeline bore out and when they predictably shifted their limited resources towards new platforms, they left a Wii market with little more than token support post 2010 and with very little 3rd party support to prop it up.
I actually think the expanded market could still be sold something exciting and well-marketed on the Wii...but there was no one left to create that product.

Eric Pobirs
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@Merc Hoffner

My charging cradle went back in the box and in the closet. What makes it any more useful than just having a cord lying there? I already have USB cables with multiple heads that will charge any of my devices (phone, PSP, 3DS) but Nintendo could have saved everyone a lot of hassle if they'd just gone with a standard USB port. Likewise Sony could have made it much easier to take a PSP everywhere if the original model were able to charge through the USB port instead of needing an oddball cable.

But there is one really big problem with the PSP and the 3DS compared to the DS: They don't hold a charge. I've had numerous occasions when I've tried to use one after a long period of no use only to find the battery had gone so low as to leave the system begging for a recharge. The immediate sign on the PSP is having to set the time and date. This kind of kills the spontaneity. And this is for being completely turned off, not in standby mode. The always on features only make the problem worse.

But just now I picked up my original DS purchased on launch day November, 2004 and turned it on. It hasn't been touched in well over a month and shows a full charge. And that charge keeps it going during play a very long time. So of the three portables the DS is still the one I'm most likely to grab on a moment's notice for portable use when I expect to be stuck waiting somewhere. I can rely on it to be charged and be usable for a long duration. With the others I'm always on the lookout for a USB port I can steal some juice from.

Merc Hoffner
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I swear, it's easier :-) It's just that that damn iPhone connection isn't so straigt forward with the case. Maybe if the next one has magsafe (as the rumors suggest) it'd be more convenient. I agree, the lack of USB is a real pain :-(. Also, my multicharge cable (I have one too) certainly is convenient, but at some point the iPhone socket only transferred power slowly! Arg.

The DS, and in particular the DS light were absolutely magical battery devices - I had one on standby for like a month once and it was fine! This is a problem plaguing all modern handheld devices it seems, and nothing lasts beyond a day anymore. If they can't make the batteries juice these stupid processors then they've got to at least make charging them more convenient. Here's to induction!

Andrew Dobbs
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I think I speak for all of us when I say "meh".

Chris Melby
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Who's this us you speak of?

I'm trading in my turquoise blue 3DS for one of these. It will go nicely with the Samsung Note I'm buying from T-Mobile as soon as it's released.

Andrew Chen
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I am sad to not be "one of us".
I am potentially in the 3ds market later this year because a bunch of games I could see myself digging into (Mario kart, Castlevania and Layton in particular) so this gives me an interesting option.
Most of my traditional handheld gaming is done at home, so the size issue is not a huge deal...battery life is always nice tho as I doubt anyone likes being tethered to anything least of all a wall socket!
The bigger screens, while reducing the sharpness of the images, will probably be better for 3d as larger screens will improve the viewing angle and effective "3d zone".
For backwards compatibility, meanwhile, DS and virtual console games will display much more nicely on the XL screen:
http://3dstribe.com/news/3ds-xl-backwards-compatibility-ds-ninten
do
A 4gb included card is decent but I would hope the eshop will see enough quality support to convince me to bump that up.

So, I am not entirely meh about this purchase option at all, tho I admittedly could have hoped for more (second pad, better cameras, even better battery life, region unlock etc). Very meh about American colour choices however :/

@Chris: I mocked the announcement of Note but since then I have seen a decent number of them here in the streets and subways of Taiwan...and usually held by young women no less. Size be damned, they just slip it in their purses! Samsung marketed it quite effectively here, I think, and having since seen and tried the real device I can say it is quite the decent piece o kit...seemingly very accurate writing system as well.

Chris Melby
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@Andrew C,

Good point aobut the larger screen for 3D viewing. That's another plus, besides just easier viewing in general. I like the 3D aspect, but switch in and out. I like that it's optional.

I've enjoyed my 3DS quite a bit, especially with the ton of VC games Nintendo threw my way after they dropped the price.

Normally I game on my PC, which has every input imaginal -- including head tracking -- but because of work, I've had to put that off. When I have a bit of down time, it's just easy to pick up my 3DS or one of my tablets to mess around.

I have more gaming avenues than time to tell you the truth, but I know I'm not alone on this. So I can understand why anyone would be hesitant to pick up another devices... Of course, I know I don't speak for all of us like the 'other' Andrew. :P

I like blue and black, so I'm good with colors for once. I hadn't looked at the colors until you mentioned them.

++++

Two of my friends finally broke away from the Apple's phones and are on Notes -- running Gingerbread. I have no issues with the size at all, because it's the size of a small notepad -- I generally carry around a sketchbook, my phone, and one or two of my tablets when just out and about.

If the Note were just a phone, I'd mock it, but it hits the right zone IMO, especially since the screen is so easy to see at arm's length.

I haven't tried the writing system. Just scribbled a bit with the stylus. I wasn't even thinking about that aspect.

I'm just excited that it's using Wacom's tech. Even though it's no where as good as my Cintiq and my older tablets, I'm still looking forward to having it on my phone; then shortly later the 10.1" Note which I'm also buying. :o

Andrew Chen
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Cheers, that is quite the loadout ;)
About writing on mobiles, I suspect many people came to agree with Steve Jobs when he said "if you see a stylus, they blew it" (referring to competing mobile devices).
I agreed with that as well until at a recent trade show I noticed no shortage of interested guests appreciating the smooth and accurate writing a well designed stylus (or tablet writing system, like with WACOM tech) is capable of.
Using our fingers definitely is more than adequate for a lion's share of our mobile tasks...but not for everyone and perhaps not even for certain tasks like note taking and drawing.
I am watching how this space develops very carefully now as it may prove a marketable differentiator since Apple has no apparent interest on pursuing this kind of tech. I hope your Note proves useful!

Tying this back to 3DS XL, that new Art Academy app they unveiled looks quite fun and I wonder if Colors! 3D will also gain a boost in usability with those large screens.

wes bogdan
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Bigger screens are wonderful however as an ambasidor with progress in digital games that would need re-downloading which is fine however ALL PROGRESS WILL BE LOST @ death mountain in zelda or zelda 2 start all over.

Currentlly at least until the nintendo network arrives all nintendo hardware is the profile so when switching from 3ds-zelda 3ds or 3ds XL all digital progress remains on the "original" system you downloaded it from.

I wouldn't mind getting a 3ds XL though it should've had the circle pad pro bolted on and let you jack in and out your sd card without need of re downloading everything and worse starting over.

All chip games are fine you won't loose progress from using a 3ds XL unfortunatly nintendo is very conservitave and we must wait and hope their nintendo network allows us the same digital rights we have with chip games.

Leon T
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Actually you can transfer all digital information to the XL.

http://www.digitaltrends.com/gaming/nintendo-nintendo-3ds-games-i
ncluding-ambassador-program-titles-will-transfer-to-3ds-xl-but/

Leon T
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I would buy this if the Wii U wasn't coming out later this year, so I might get one next year. I was waiting for a new design to buy another 3DS anyway.

Jorge Ramos
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Given the size of the thing, I was hoping for a more significant improvement in battery life than that. It makes me miss the 24+ hour usage times I would get out of the DS lite, except that the reason I have a 3DS, is because I had to replace my last DS lite on a store replacement plan, due to having so many that would either have their hinge/frame break under normal usage, or shoulder buttons not working as they should. It also makes me miss the GBA slot, since just from the dimensions, I see no reason that couldn't have been retained at least through the DSi era.

I have a 3DS. As a DS, it's been the sturdiest and strongest one I've used, with no problems arising in hinge, shoulder buttons or much of anything.

However, I've still yet to really find much of anything for it that I feel has made it worth having. And what few I do would almost certainly require that Circle pad add-on because attempting to control the game(s) without has been unwieldy at best, if not awkward (particularly MGS3D's demo, if not RE's as well). Would have got the first RE 3D, until I got wind of the perma-save DRM that Capcom tried to do. Store Kiosks do little to really determine if it'd be worth my time to have got Mario 3D land or any of the recent Mario games to come to the system. And I refuse to touch Mario Kart because of the frustration that series has caused me as a player.

Many among my friends who have heard of this thing and seen the images all ask why they didn't integrate the Circle Pad's extra stick and buttons, given that they now have plenty of extra room to accommodate with this new iteration.

wes bogdan
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That's next years model the 3ds xl pro!!


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