Nintendo plans new Wii console

25 Apr 2011

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo will launch a new upgraded model of the Wii gaming console in 2012. The news came as the company reported a second annual fall in profits as demand for Wii consoles slowed in the face of competition from the Microsoft Kinect and the Sony Move.

Nintendo says it plans to launch the new console in 2012 to fight back against the new competition and reclaim its position as an early mover in the motion gaming space.

The Wii console was a breakthrough when it was introduced four years ago. However, the technology is seen as ageing and is no longer the only motion game controller in town.

Nintendo’s Wii will have to contend with wireless controllers in particular, such as the Microsoft Xbox 360 Kinect, which requires no handheld devices and instead relies on motion-sensing camera technology. For Microsoft to drive home the advantage, however, it will need to move beyond concept games and translate popular high street titles into the Kinect universe.

Nintendo needs fresh technology breakthroughs

Nintendo’s ability to already take high-street titles like Call of Duty and Mario Bros and create Wii versions may be its saving grace. But whatever technology it brings to market in the coming months, it will need to be breathtaking. My guess is it will involve some form of 3D technology and may coincide with the first glasses-free 3D TV sets which will debut next year.

Despite breakthrough technology like the Nintendo 3DS, a 3D glasses-free handheld device, Nintendo also faces competition in the handheld gaming space, most notably on Android phones, Apple’s iPhone, Sony’s PlayStation Portable and the latest crossover device, the Sony Ericsson Play.

Wii console sales have fallen to 15.1m units from 20.1m last year and sales in 2011 are expected to drop by a further 2m units.

Sales of non-3D Nintendo DS devices fell by 10m to 17.5m units.

Operating profits fell 52pc to US$2.09bn from US$4.36bn last year. The company says the Japanese earthquake had a strong effect on Japanese consumer spending in March.

Looking to next year, Nintendo expects an operating profit of US$2.14bn for results in March 2012.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years