Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Nintendo announces next-gen gaming console coming in 2012

On Monday, Nintendo became the first gaming system manufacturer to announce its next-generation gaming system. The company said a new console is in the works, and will be delivered in the rather vague time frame of 2012.

The normally reticent Nintendo quietly issued a very short press release (.PDF) on the matter. The company said the new system will be demoed at the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) in Los Angeles. E3 runs June 7 - 9.

It is unclear if the new system will be called Wii 2, Wii ii (which would be humorous, but probably not a good idea), or if it will carry the Wii brand at all. The Wii was a runaway success for Nintendo, but it is showing its age. Since its launch in 2006, the company has sold 86.01 million Wiis (through March, 2011). However, the company's annual financial results for 2010 showed a huge drop-off in sales, with only 15.1 million Wiis sold globally, a 25 percent drop from its 2009 sales of 20.1 million consoles.

Rumors of a new Nintendo console announcement have been swirling for some time. The latest rumors included Nintendo announcing a price cut to the Wii in May. It was also rumored that Nintendo would announce the new system at E3, but the gaming company beat that date, as far as announcements go.

The company has not confirmed any specific console details, but that may be corrected at E3. Earlier reports include that the console will at least be HD-ready. In terms of matching or surpassing the specifications of the Xbox 360 and PS3, reports have been across the board, with some saying the new console will surpass those other models, and others saying it will not.

Other rumors include a tablet-style controller with streaming video, a Blu-ray drive, backward compatibility with the current Wii, and a better motion-based controller than either the PlayStation Move or Kinect.

Since Nintendo just released the Nintendo 3DS, an obvious question would be if 3D is to be a part of the new console. It's unclear, but since 2012 is a full 12-month window, Nintendo has plenty of time to see how 3DTVs play out. President Satoru Iwata told Bloomberg,
“We would like to propose a new approach to home video game consoles. It’s difficult to make 3-D images a key feature, because 3-D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet.”
Either way, it would appear that Nintendo might have a large head start on both Microsoft and Sony. Last week, it was reported that both of those companies are targeting 2014 for the follow-up consoles to their currently shipping Xbox 360 and PS3.

However, if the public response is anything like that for the original Nintendo Wii, the new console may be difficult to get for quite some time after launch.

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