Nintendo lines up Wii successor

It could be game over for the Wii console after Nintendo announced that it would reveal the successor to its wireless console this summer before a full launch next year, in an attempt to reverse a slide in profits.

The Japanese computer games company on Monday reported a 66% fall in full-year profits to 77,6-billion yen (£574-million), the second year of decline. Annual sales slipped 29% to 1,014-trillion yen. But the company is hoping for a rebound in profits for the current year, as sales of its new Nintendo 3DS offset a slump in demand in its home country after last month’s earthquake and tsunami.

Nintendo said that it had not suffered any direct damage from the disaster that would significantly affect its production. But it added that there would be “an indirect impact from individual consumption patterns”.

The company said that it planned to show a playable version of its new console, so far unnamed, at the E3 trade fair in Los Angeles in early June. The new device will replace the Wii, which has sold 86-million units since its launch in 2006. Sales last year fell 27% to 15-million and are expected to fall again, to 13-million for the current year.

Nintendo hopes to sell 16-million of its handheld 3DS consoles, which went on sale in February in the United Kingdom and Japan, and a month later in the United States, Europe and Australia. The 3DS allows users to play 3D games without wearing special glasses and also to take 3D pictures. Customers will eventually be offered 3D movie streaming.

In recent years Nintendo has found itself operating in a tough market. The company has been facing increased competition from the likes of Microsoft, with its motion-sensing Kinect gaming system, as well as the rise of smartphones and tablets from operators such as Apple. —

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