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Article: Nintendo DS: What does the future hold?

by Steven Williamson on 28 August 2008, 14:58

Tags: Nintendo DS, Nintendo (TYO:7974), DS

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New DS model or new hand-held?

Is Nintendo planning to launch a revised DS model, complete with dual touchscreen functionality and bigger and better LCD screens?

Speculation that this could the case has been gathering pace throughout the week on various gaming blogs and forums after Kotaku reported it had received information confirming that a new edition could well be announced very shortly and may be available in 2009.

The first question that sprang to mind was: Why would Nintendo do this? It makes no sense whatsoever. The DS install base is so huge that surely Nintendo isn’t going to see a decent return on a revised DS model at this stage in its life cycle? Is dual touchscreen functionality a big enough draw to make existing DS users want to upgrade? Perhaps a few early adopters, yes, but in the main, I doubt it.

By bringing out a revised version of the current DS that incorporates dual-screen functionality, Nintendo would simply be giving software developers a dilemma. Should they develop games that utilise both touchscreens, making their costs higher and their job more difficult or should they just continue doing what they have been doing with the guarantee of a huge audience who already have the DS? It's a no-brainer, it just wouldn't make sense for developers to spend time and money incorporating such functionality when they simply wouldn't need to.

Furthermore, we've already had new hardware tweaks to the DS with the DS Lite which brought us a brighter LCD screen, a more compact unit, longer battery life and a quicker charge time. Aside from building the DS from the ground-up, dual touchscreen capability or larger screens won't add significantly to the DS experience as it is now.

Although the life-cycle of the Nintendo DS will no doubt continue for at least another few years, I suspect what’s more likely is that Nintendo is hard at work on a new hand-held, a successor to the Nintendo DS. A gaming machine that I suspect is just around the corner.

The first indication that points to a possible new device is that Nintendo has significantly slowed down on developing first-party games for the hand-held. Where are all the great games this year? What has it got coming out aside from the millionth Pokemon iteration? Could this be a sign that it’s busy working on its first batch of new games for its new hand-held? It certainly seems feasible. Didn't it do this with its Gamecube software and then lo and behold the Wii was announced?

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