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Nintendo’s next console likely won’t be going the 3D route

reggie-fils-aime-heyThe one fact that Nintendo has highlighted again and again in the lead-up to its new 3DS portable gaming device is its ability to deliver a 3D viewing experience without the need for glasses. Saturday night’s countdown to the Sunday launch in New York City culminated with Nintendo of America boss Reggie Fils-Aime joining the gathered crowd in a ceremonial gesture that involved throwing 3D glasses, distributed earlier, into the air.

With all of the 3D hubbub surrounding the new device, you might expect that the big N has some long-term plans for the format. You’d be partially right, since the company will certainly be giving the 3DS its full support. As far as console gaming goes however, the possibility of a 3D future for Nintendo seems far less likely.

“I think at Nintendo, we realize that any sort of goggle-type 3-D technology was not going to work. In order to make 3-D technology viable with video games, we thought we needed to have glasses-free 3-D,” top Nintendo director Hideki Konno told CNN in a recent interview. Fils-Aime, who was also interviewed, offered a bit more insight. While he didn’t reveal any specific plans for what’s next after the Wii, the company’s current-generation gaming console, he did strongly indicate that 3D display capabilities won’t be included.

“Glasses-free is a big deal,” he said. “We’ve not said publicly what the next thing for us will be in the home console space, but based on what we’ve learned on 3-D, likely, that won’t be it.”

Considering how secretive the video game industry tends to be about upcoming hardware and software releases, this is a pretty bold admission to hear coming from Nintendo of America’s president and chief operating officer. It’s also rather meaningless in the end. Changing times could easily breed a different attitude; in-home 3D displays will take off in a major way before the next console generation spools up, for example. Given the Nintendo’s general approach to marketing the 3D functionality on its new device — just look at the symbolic “casting off of the 3D glasses shackles” gesture at Sunday’s launch — it would be folly for Fils-Aime to then turn around and say the company is looking at 3D for its next console release when, presently, glasses are required for such an experience.