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Nintendo admits 3D is a gimmick

Nintendo’s products have long had the mysterious power to make unpopular technologies successful. This has been particularly true since the advent of the DS, which saw great success in implementing dual displays (many have failed) and a stylus, and in a portable landscape-oriented clamshell that’s been outré since the days of the LG enV.  What’s even more surprising is that Nintendo generally hadn’t tried to reinvigorate the technologies with a better implementation, as Apple did with capacitive touchscreens.

But things were a little different for the 3DS. I was at its introduction at the Best Buy store in Union Square, where Reggie Fils-Amine poked fun at the glasses required for 3D televisions. (Best Buy people didn’t seem to appreciate the joke.) The 3DS would become one of the most successful 3D products in any category. But there was never any real gameplay dependencies on the 3D. It was just dimensional ornamentation. Indeed Nintendo’s lack of faith in the technology’s universal appeal was embodied in the 3D effect slider (the equivalent of which is common in many 3D products). And now, with the introduction of the wedge-shaped 2DS, Nintendo has basically shown that the emperor has no clothes and that 3DS titles are really little more than graphically advanced DS titles.

Sony, of course, has also bid a hasty retreat from marketing 3D with the PlayStatino 4, — justifiable given the TV dependency, although at least that console still supports it. Nintendo’s willingness to cut the stereoscopy was surely driven by cost, but it makes one wonder how many 3DS users have been keeping that slider turned down all the way since the console’s debut.