Nintendo unveils online strategy for Wii successor
TOKYO, June 4 — Nintendo, the world’s leading game console maker, unveiled a new online strategy today, saying it will launch a social and content network dubbed Miiverse for its latest version of the Wii - the Wii U.
The strategy is similar to that of rivals including Sony Corp and Apple Inc, although analysts raised concerns that Nintendo has been late to embrace online gaming, and may have to work hard to gain ground.
Debuted a year ago, the much anticipated Wii U console has so far received a frosty reception from investors worried that the hardware will struggle to find buyers in a US$78.5 billion (RM244.9 billion) industry that has become a target for smartphone and tablet PC makers such as Apple.
“Some people may wonder if Wii U is a simple evolution of Wii or something completely different. I think maybe the best answer is both,” Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said in a webcast ahead of the E3 videogame industry trade show in Los Angeles where he will unveil the final version of the Wii U.
The addition of Miiverse suggests Nintendo may be relying on online content delivery to underpin hardware sales through its new Nintendo Network, a similar strategy to Sony and Apple.
However, Iwata has been slower than others to take on online social and content delivery platforms, and will have much ground to make up to catch up with the millions of subscribers plugged into Playstation 3’s network, iTunes and Microsoft Corp’s Xbox.
In a more traditional hardware bid to entice consumers, Iwata in his webcast said the Wii U’s tablet touchscreen controller would come with a joystick called a Gamepad that would double as a TV remote, while a pro controller for the games machine would be available for hardcore gamers.
“All of these things sound like they are playing catch up to the Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3,” Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities said after Iwata’s webcast.
After revealing the Wii U a year ago, Nintendo’s shares have fallen steeply to current levels around ¥9,000, its lowest since November 2003, and well below its price when the Wii was first launched in 2006. The stock was trading down 1.5 per cent today, against a 2.2 per cent fall in the broader TOPIX index.
Nintendo’s latest console will be the focus of attention at the Electronic Entertainment Expo or E3, to be from June 5 to 7.
Investors had expected to be disappointed by the Wii U, Mizuho Securities analyst Takeshi Koyama said before Iwata’s latest Wii U revelations.
“The market has begun discount the possibility that the situation is going to get worse after this year’s E3,” Koyama said in Tokyo. — Reuters