NINTENDO yesterday announced that its next generation Wii U video game console will be released in time for Christmas, as it aims to get a head start on rivals Sony and Microsoft.
The Japanese company – which reported its first annual loss in its 123-year history this year as sales of its current Wii console disappointed – said the new system would go on sale in the UK on 30 November, shortly after an American launch.
New Xbox and Playstation consoles from Microsoft and Sony are expected to be released next year, meaning Nintendo will be the only manufacturer with a new offering during the lucrative Christmas period. However its position in the market has been squeezed by the rise of gaming on tablets and smartphones.
Nintendo did not announce European pricing yesterday, although Amazon opened pre-orders starting at £199 for the basic model before quickly removing the figure, giving it a competitive price not much higher than current consoles.
Separate announcements from Nintendo in Tokyo and New York yesterday moved the share price – which has fallen 29 per cent in the past six months – up 3.21 per cent.
The company is attempting to capitalise on the success of the current Wii console, which has sold around 100m units since its 2006 launch but has seen declining sales as the casual gamers that Nintendo aims to attract have been enticed by different platforms such as Apple’s iPad and games on Facebook.
The most innovative feature of the Wii U is a new tablet-style controller with an embedded touchscreen to supplement gameplay on the TV screen.
The console will benefit from an extensive range of launch titles, including new Mario and Fifa games.