Nintendo’s surprising out-of-nowhere announcement that it was developing a new 3D handheld may have been timed to beat the Japanese media rumor mill to the punch, even at the expense of the DSi XL’s North American launch.

Last week, Nintendo revealed that it was making a new, 3D-capable handheld device as the next true successor for its popular DS platform – codenamed the 3DS.

This announcement was surprising in quite a few ways: The reveal of new hardware by one of the Big Three is traditionally something done at major shows like E3. It would have even made more sense for Nintendo to take the veil off the 3DS at GDC several weeks prior, not in a quiet overnight press release. Furthermore, it came just days before the North American launch of the DSi XL, meaning that prospective buyers would be picking up a $190 piece of technology that Nintendo itself had already rendered obsolete.

According to CNBC, though, the ill-timed 3DS announcement may have been an attempt by Nintendo’s Japanese HQ to beat the press to the punch. There had already been friction between NOJ and Nikkei over Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata’s supposed comments about the DS’ successor – Nintendo claimed Iwata never said that, Nikkei maintained that he did – and M2 Research senior analyst Billy Pigeon thinks that the reveal was probably timed to avoid anything further being leaked by scoop-seeking media.

“Apparently, the Japanese press was all over it and talked with suppliers there and Nintendo just wanted to get out ahead by breaking the news to prevent a leak,” said Pigeon. “Does it clash with the DSi XL? Yes it does.”

It clashes with the XL in the West, anyway. “The XL is old news, however, in Japan – and Nintendo is a very Japan-centric organization. This is just the corporate parent in Japan maybe not acting in the best interest of Nintendo of America.”

Speaking as someone who picked up an XL on Sunday, it’s still a pretty slick product, and the big screen is gorgeous. So while there’s no doubt that the reveal of the 3DS will have some impact on DSi XL sales, perhaps it isn’t quite the shot in the foot that some are predicting it will be.

(Via Gamasutra)

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