UPDATE 2-Nintendo to launch 3D-capable DS in 2010/11

Tue Mar 23, 2010 5:34pm IST

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* New DS lets users play 3D games without special glasses

* Nintendo to unveil details at E3 show in June

* Shares close up 0.3 pct vs Nikkei's 0.5 pct fall (Adds analyst comments, background)

TOKYO, March 23 (Reuters) - Nintendo Co 7974.OS plans to launch a new model of its DS handheld game console that allows users to play three-dimensional (3D) games without using special glasses, aiming to reinvigorate demand for the five year old machine.

The Japanese company said the new portable player, tentatively named "Nintendo 3DS", will be able to play titles created for previous DS models and will be launched in the financial year starting in April.

Nintendo, which competes with Sony Corp (6758.T) and Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) in video games, declined to give details such as price and launch dates, but said more information will be announced at the E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles in June.

"This will certainly stimulate demand for the DS," Rakuten Securities analyst Yasuo Imanaka said.

"But, we need to keep in mind that this is a portable machine. If you expect the kind of full-blown 3D visuals shown on TVs or in movie theatres, you could be disappointed."

Sony plans to release 3D titles for its PlayStation 3 game console in time for the planned release of its 3D TVs in June. That game console can be upgraded to become 3D-capable using a software update.

Electronics makers and software creators have high hopes that growing interest in 3D movies, sparked by the sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" and other recent titles, will drive sales of their 3D-capable hardware and software contents.

Nintendo has sold more than 125 million units of the DS worldwide, but the company expects unit sales of the dual-screen machine to fall 4 percent in the year ending March 31, its first ever decline in annual sales.

Ahead of the announcement, shares in Nintendo closed up 0.3 percent at 27,970 yen on Tuesday, outperforming the Nikkei average .N225, which slid 0.5 percent. (Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Editing by Rupert Winchester)

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