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Nintendo Wii 2: Desperation or Masterstroke?

To see that not all is sunshine and light at Nintendo you just have to look a little closer. Remember that addendum in the official Wii 2 press release: "Sales of this new system have not been included in the financial forecasts announced today for the fiscal term ending March 2012."

Nintendo is desperately trying to prove itself to investors and gamers. The Wii may have sold 86m units, at least 'on a consolidated shipment basis', but much of that momentum came in the console's early years. A time when it was virtually impossible to find a Wii in stock anywhere in the world. Since then interest in the console has stagnated, its rivals have more advanced equivalents of its movement controller technology and for use on more powerful consoles. In the past a casual gamer may have chosen the Wii, but now why bother when both casual and hardcore gaming needs can now be satisfied by Microsoft and Sony?

Nintendo also claims it has been affected by the strength of the yen with the company admitting it has "large cash deposits and other assets in foreign countries" which have been negatively hit when they are converted to yen for its quarterly results. Regardless, Nintendo's financial figures do not make for good reading. Last October it reported a $24.7m net loss. This week the Christmas period saw it return to a profit of $146m (12 billion yen), but that was still hugely down on the 59.9bn yen ($722.2m) it made during the same period last year. According to its consolidated results net income is also down 66 per cent and operating profit has fallen 52 per cent.

Nintendo does boast profitability will increase with the global release of the 3DS, but that only serves to illustrate how little life the Wii has left and how mimimal its impact now is. It could be argued the Wii 2 has a two year head start only because Nintendo had no choice. The Wii's lifespan has proved short once the other consoles evolved to become its rivals.

In the current economic climate it also raises the question whether the public have the appetite to buy another console this year? Especially one which is unlikely to offer any great performance advantages over machines they already own.

Even the 3D aspect Nintendo is heavily promoting with the 3DS is unlikely to be continued with the Wii 2. "It’s difficult to make 3D images a key feature, because 3D televisions haven’t obtained wide acceptance yet,” said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata. He may be right, but if talk of the new controllers having screens is true omitting 3D entirely would limit the crossover appeal of the two. And what of the controllers themselves: the Wii 2 console may well be cheap, but what will be the cost of additional controllers and will they add complexity that alienates the mainstream audience Nintendo worked so hard to build up in the first place?

Yes indeed, everyone has a good CV and a bad CV. Neither is completely true, they never are. What is beyond dispute though, is while Microsoft and Sony will be nervous about Nintendo's plans Nintendo will be having just as many sleepless nights – if not more…

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