This morning, Nintendo announced a new version of the 3DS system that will be released in October in Japan. The "New 3DS" touts a refreshed design, with a new mini-analog stick, new ZR and ZL buttons, and Super Nintendo style ABXY buttons. The original 3DS has a slightly bigger screen, and the original design has been completely scrapped. Nintendo says the 3D viewing will have better viewing angles and built in NFC support, for the new Amiibo figures. The 3DS card slot is now on the front of the console, along with the power button and stylus slot. They also announced that there will be an improved camera, and home-screen themes.
The biggest change to the New 3DS is the ability to swap-out the face plates. Now it will be easier to produce limited edition 3DS skins, and easier to add them to your console if you wish. These face plates also seem to have corresponding home screen themes, which is a very welcome change from the old grey 3DS menu design.
This announcement comes after Nintendo declared that they would try to cater more to the "hardcore gamer" audience. In this light, the announcement makes a lot of sense: A new, more powerful 3DS system with a better design for the same price along with a New 3DS exclusive Xenoblade Chronicles port (Japan-only for now). Nintendo seem to be going in a brilliant new direction, but there's one big problem: the name.
The biggest problem that I think Nintendo are going to have is the name. Simply calling it the "new 3DS" won't work. We've already seen the Wii U become victim to it's name, I don't want to see this happen to the New 3DS. This isn't an update to the old 3DS; this is a new console entirely. There are already games being announced that will only work on the New 3DS. This name might work for Japan, but it won't cut it in the US.
US consumers are confused by slight variations in names. The Xbox One is another great example of this. The old "Xbox One" became the "Original Xbox". This was extremely confusing at first, and criticized by many gamers. Hopefully Nintendo listens to the criticism that many gaming websites are putting out now and reworks the name for the US and Europe.
The New 3DS and New 3DS XL come out on October 11th in Japan. The XL will cost 18,800 Yen ($180) and the regular will cost 16,000 Yen ($150). There are no US or European release dates announced, but it is rumored they will be coming out early next year.