LOS ANGELES - Japan's Nintendo Tuesday took the wraps off a new version of its DS handheld device that can play games and show movies in 3D without glasses, as the hardware wars with Microsoft and Sony heat up.
The trio that rules the market for gaming devices unveiled at the E3 expo this week nifty gadgets aimed at widening the global gaming population by drawing in more casual gamers, just as the industry is beginning to recover from a two-year slump.
On Tuesday, the creator of Super Mario games and the Wii offered a peek at its 3DS. The device comes with two screens - one a touch screen - and three built-in cameras, enabling the machine to snap digital photos in 3D.
Nintendo, which has seen growth in sales of its industry-leading Wii slow as rivals slash prices, did not say when sales begin or give a retail price but noted it will hit store shelves sometime before March 2011.
Electronics makers have high hopes that growing interest in 3D - sparked in part by the sci-fi blockbuster film "Avatar" - will power a new era of growth for an industry still recovering from the 2008-2009 downturn. Nintendo executives are pondering a number of newfangled options for the 3DS.
"We have not decided on a specific business model regarding 3D movies running on 3DS. However, for Nintendo and movie studios it can provide a unique business opportunity," president Satoru Iwata said through a translator.
The rush of technology comes just as the video game industry needs it. U.S. industry sales - hardware, software and accessories - are down more than 10 percent at $4.7 billion this year through April, according to research firm NPD Group.