It has been another in an increasingly long streak of bad weeks for Nintendo. Though 3DS sales are up, Nintendo posted a loss of nearly a billion dollars for the second quarter. That said, indications are that the company has turned a corner -- Nintendo's stock price actually rose six percent today. Curiously, Nintendo's massive losses and recovering stock price share the same catalyst: the 3DS.
As though Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land weren't enough to drive 3DS sales through the holidays (and they almost certainly are), Nintendo has outlined welcome new features coming to the 3DS and its eShop that should make the handheld ever more enticing.
The news comes from Nintendo's Semi-Annual Financial Results Briefing, published just today. Perhaps the most exciting development for current 3DS owners is that playable demos will finally be made available on the Nintendo eShop. Of course, playable demos have been on the table for 3DS before. Mega Man Legends 3: Prototype was originally slated to appear at the launch of the 3DS eShop, well before being officially cancelled.
In the Briefing, Nintendo asserts that publishers will be able to place a "limit on the number of trials," a strategy that on the surface seems misguided. The best advertising is word of mouth, and one imagines that few players will spend much time recommending games based on demos they no longer have access to. That said, trial limits are only available, not required, and given the alternative, some demos are obviously better than none.
Publishers, meanwhile, likely favored Nintendo's announcement of another new feature coming to the 3DS: add-on content. Yes, like every other modern console, the 3DS is about to play host to DLC. Add-on content is an increasingly important source of revenue in the games industry (hello, Batman: Arkham City), and one that Nintendo -- not to mention its shareholders -- can no longer ignore. Indeed, Nintendo notes that "the Internet-connection ratio of Nintendo 3DS is higher in comparison to our other portable game systems," making the move to support DLC obvious, particularly in light of the company's refusal to join the thriving iOS/Android mobile market.
Finally, 3DS owners will soon be able to download software from the eShop while the system is in Sleep Mode. A minor convenience, to be sure, but welcome nonetheless.
Though not slated to hit at the same time as the aforementioned 3DS updates, Nintendo is finally taking the eShop online. When launched, the eShop will be accessible from "PCs and smartphones." This being Nintendo, eShop online is going to be a very different experience from either the Xbox Marketplace or the PlayStation Store.
"At the beginning, you will not be able to directly purchase software from your PC or smartphone. Instead, you will need to take a photo of a QR code at the Nintendo eShop by using the camera of your Nintendo 3DS. The Nintendo 3DS will then open that specific page of the Nintendo eShop. That function is already included in the upcoming system update for the Nintendo 3DS. In the future, we will make it so that you will be able to purchase software by using your PC or smartphone."
Today's news follows closely on the heels of a bevy of 3DS announcements, including the addition of Hulu Plus and 3D video recording to the system, a possible name and North American date for the Slide Pad, and the reveal of the Mario Kart 7 racing wheel. Given the furious pace of these announcements, and the need for Nintendo to solidify its hold on the current handheld generation before Sony launches the Vita, one wonders just what could be next for 3DS. Achievements? Skype? Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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