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Analyst predicts $249-$299 price for 3DS

Late 2010 launch in Japan and US debut in March, thinks Lazard

Market analyst firm Lazard Capital Markets has predicted a late 2010 launch for the Nintendo 3DS portable in Japan, followed by a North American launch in March at $249-$299.

"We have little doubt that the 3DS will prove successful for Nintendo and quite possibly third-party software publishers, as the 3D effects will give reason for consumers to upgrade from their current devices, as well as potentially reduce the cannibalistic impact from smartphones and tablets," said analyst Colin Sebastian in comments provided to website Gamasutra.

Nintendo's only comment on the launch date of the 3DS has been that it will be released before the end of its financial year in March 2011, although this may refer only to Japan. New hardware is often released in Japan in December, ahead of the New Year gift-giving season, with some iterations of the DS released first in Japan and others debuting in the West.

No indication on the price of the device has ever been given, but the current RRP of the Nintendo DSi XL in the U.S., the most expensive DS variant so far, is $189.99.

Sebastian also commented on the other major hardware platforms at E3, suggesting that the Wii could see its market share eroded by Kinect and Move. However, he felt high costs for the HD peripherals and a strong software line-up for the Wii, "should keep core fans engaged with the platform until there is a platform refresh, as early as 2011, in our view."

A price point of $100 to $150 was predicted for Kinect, which yesterday Sebastian forecast would ship 3 million units worldwide. Both GameStop and Amazon are currently listing the device with a $150 price tag. Microsoft is set to reveal the official price at the gamescom event next month.

Sebastian also commented on Sony's E3 performance, saying: "While initially marketing the PS3 as a core game platform, we believe that Sony has turned a new page and now is developing a broader digital entertainment platform."

In terms of third party publishers Sebastian felt that Activision came out ahead at E3, referencing a "robust Blizzard pipeline, new online business models, and growth in Asia" and concluding that "We believe that Activision is well positioned to maintain its industry-leading margin profile with multiple opportunities for growth in coming years."

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David Jenkins