Can Nintendo really be planning another DS variant?

There was a lot of talk yesterday about an article in the Japanese publication Nikkei which claimed that Nintendo was readying a new iteration of its DS line of handheld gaming systems. The report claims the new unit will have 4" screens (the current unit has 3.25" screens) and is designed for older gamers who have trouble seeing the small screens of the current DSi. This new model is otherwise identical to the existing DSi and will ship by end of year in Japan. I don't read Japanese so can't read the source material myself, but reports from Kotaku, Joystiq and Electronista are all saying the same thing; we'll take it on faith that they have quality interpreters on hand.

As an 'older gamer' myself, you'd think I'd be overjoyed at the prospect of replacing my current DSi with a new, larger screen model. I'm not. Nintendo seems to be working towards an annual upgrade cycle for their handheld system. The Nintendo DS originally launched in 2004. The DS Lite launched in 2006. The DSi launched in 2009 and now this new DS will (presumably) launch in 2010. Frankly I'm tired of re-buying the same basic handheld over and over again (and yet terrified that if I don't buy each new iteration I may miss out on some great new nuance of the system). Of course, I'm part of the problem. Again and again I, and millions of other DS owners, drink the Nintendo Kool-Aid and re-buy, and that's why the DS sits in its throne atop the NPD sales charts month after month after month.

Nintendo, it's time for a new handheld. And I mean really new, not a subtle variation on what you've already done. The DSi sounded like an interesting new idea with its dual cameras and it's downloadable game service, but neither of these features have been used in any meaningful way.

A few weeks back there was a rumor that a new Nintendo handheld using Nvidia's Tegra chip (the same chip used in the new Zune HD) would be announced next year. The rumor suggested this new handheld would be backwards compatible with the huge catalog of DS games, yet be significantly more powerful than the current design. That's exactly what we need. Something with more capability than the 6 year old internals of the current DS; not another iteration of the same-old same-old. Until we stop buying new iterations of old hardware, Nintendo has little incentive to innovate. That's why I won't be buying this new larger-screen DS. And I don't think you should buy it, either.

[Update: Nintendo announces sagging sales the same day they make he new DSi is official. Please read my new post on the topic and let's hear your comments.]

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