Nintendo to Launch New Wii Console in 2012 as Profits Dwindle

Nintendo said it would launch a successor to its popular Wii game console in 2012 as it struggles to win back users from rivals Microsoft and Sony and seeks to reverse a slump in profits.

In 2010 the company sold only 15.1 million Wiis -- a 25% drop from 2009 when it sold 20.1 million units globally. Photo: Nintendo

Nintendo has officially confirmed it will launch a successor to its vastly popular gaming console Wii in 2012. However, no technical details about the machine have been revealed, but gamers will get an early preview at the E3 Expo, which is held June 7-9, 2011, in Los Angeles in June.

The original Wii proved a runaway hit for Nintendo when it launched five years ago. However, sales have been gradually declining in the face of tough competition from PlayStation, XBox 360 and mobile gaming platforms.

Nintedo has sold 86.01 million Wiis from 2006, when the console was launched, to the end of March 2011. However, in 2010 the company sold only 15.1 million Wiis – a 25% drop from 2009 when it sold 20.1 million units globally.

The company also revealed its yearly financial results for 2010, marking a big drop in net profit which was $825 million — 66 percent less than in 2009.

Wii was the first console of the current generation to offer motion controlled gameplay. In the past year, Microsoft has introduced its Kinect system for XBox, while Sony launched PlayStation Move.

In March, Microsoft said it had sold more than 10 million Kinect motion-sensing game system units worldwide in just over four months, making it the fastest-selling consumer device on record.

The infrared camera add-on for the Xbox game console tracks body gestures for video games. Sony’s rival motion sensing device is dubbed Move.

Nintendo’s chief executive, Satoru Iwata suggested that his company was preparing a fresh innovation. “As for the details of exactly what it will be, we have decided that it is best to let people experience it for themselves at E3,”  he said.

“So I won’t talk about specific details today, but it will offer a new way of playing games within the home,” said Iwata, a former game designer.

Some observers had speculated that the Wii 2 would simply update the existing machine, adding a handful of features such as high definition graphics.

“Core users and game lovers will certainly buy it, but I think it will be hard to capture buyers outside of that group,” said Mitsushige Akino, Chief Fund Manager at Ichiyoshi Investment Management.

However Johnny Minkley, an editor at Eurogamer.net, believes that Nintendo could be planning a broader re-design. “The talk was about Wii HD, but I do not see Nintendo doing that. It will do something more innovative,” he told BBC News.

Mr Minkley noted that Nintendo marketed the original Wii around its motion-sensing handset, rather than technical specifications – something he expects to see repeated.

“PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 were part of the graphics arms race. Nintendo would never launch a console based on the strength of hardware. Theirs has to have a gameplay point to it,” he said. [via BBC and Reuters]

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