April 25, 2011

Next Generation Wii Coming Next Year

The maker of the Wii gaming system, Nintendo, claims it will be launching a successor to its motion-based game console in the next year as it struggles to woo customers back from rivals Microsoft and Sony, and in hopes of reversing a slowdown in profits.

Despite the launch of its much-touted 3D-capable handheld gaming device, Nintendo expects profits to remain almost flat through the remainder of the current financial year. Sales of gaming systems has been wrecked in Japan while the nation recovers from the devastation of the recent natural disasters, Reuters reported.

The maker of the DS handheld game player said it will demonstrate the Wii's replacement in June at the E3 Expo held in Los Angeles. The Wii took the industry by storm five years ago by offering the first motion-based gaming, appealing to a broad audience rather than just "core" video game fans.

Mitsushige Akino, Chief Fund Manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management, explains some of the hurdles Nintendo faces this time around: "Nintendo will find it harder to sidestep its competitors and must also contend with a burgeoning smartphone market that didn't exist in 2006. Core users and game lovers will certainly buy it, but I think it will be hard to capture buyers outside of that group," he told Reuters.

The company, best known among gamers for its "Super Mario Bros." series, is facing many challengers to its one-time domination of the market. On the home console front, Sony's Playstation, and Microsoft's XBox have been a world-wide success.

Joining into the fight for consumers time and money are increasingly sophisticated games on smartphones and tablet computers, including Apple's i-devices and products from Google's Android line of mobile gadgets, AFP reports.

Nintendo is pinning short-term hopes on its 3DS device, which lets users play 3D games without having to don special glasses. The new handheld machine, which also takes 3D pictures and will eventually offer 3D movie streaming, went on sale February in Japan for $300 and sells in the United States for $250.

However, the market for handheld gaming devices is already saturated with smartphones loaded with cheap, easy-to-play games and established players from Sony and others.

Sony, not content to sit idle in this market, has announced a successor to its PlayStation Portable that is due to go on sale late this year sporting a larger screen and flashier graphics.

In its earnings statement, Nintendo claims that the 3DS has been selling very well and that it expects to move 16 million of the machines in the current fiscal year. The company's overall hardware and software sales have been down however, AP reports.

Fifteen million Wii consoles were sold by Nintendo last fiscal year, down 27 percent, and expects to sell only 13 million of the game systems in the current fiscal year. Nintendo's bottom line also took a hit from its decision to cut prices on the DS during the last fiscal year.


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