Japan's Nintendo Co Ltd. on Tuesday took the wraps off a new version of its DS handheld device that can play games and show movies in 3D without glasses, in an effort to revitalize demand.
The device, introduced at the E3 video game conference in Los Angeles, comes with two screens - one a touch screen - and three built-in cameras, enabling the machine to snap digital photos in 3D.
Electronics makers have high hopes that growing interest in 3D - sparked in part by the sci-fi blockbuster "Avatar" - will power a new era of growth for an industry still recovering from the 2008-2009 downturn.
Nintendo, which has seen growth in sales of its industry-leading Wii platform slow as rivals slash prices, did not say when sales would begin, or give a retail price. It had previously suggested such a device would go on sale by March 2011.
The world's leading gaming hardware makers, hoping to reignite the slumping $60-billion industry, will unveil a plethora of futuristic gadgets at the E3 convention.
On Monday, Microsoft Corp said it will begin selling its "Kinect" motion-sensing game system on November 4, hoping to lure new and casual players to the Xbox and steal a march on rivals Nintendo and Sony Corp.
The rush of technology comes just as the video game industry, which dwarfs the $10-billion domestic movie box office, needs it. U.S. industry sales - hardware, software and accessories - are down more than 10 per cent at $4.7-billion this year through April, according to research firm NPD Group.
Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime sought to refute the perception that sales of the Wii console are softening, and that the Wii - which pioneered motion-sensing gaming via an all-purpose controller - has lost its luster as rival platforms gain momentum.
Calling these notions "false perceptions," Fils-Aime said more software was sold for the Wii in 43 months on market than on any platform over the same time frame.
The introduction comes one month after Nintendo forecast a second straight year of smaller profits, as sales of its Wii console slow.
Nintendo rode strong demand for the Wii and DS handheld game player to three straight years of record profits through March 2009, but growth slowed last year after Sony and Microsoft cut console prices and beefed up their software offerings.
Growing competition from Apple Inc's iPhone, smart phones and social networks is also starting to pose a threat to Nintendo's DS portable player, analysts say.