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Nintendo: Success of DS May Doom GameBoy Line

Nintendo Co. Ltd. may not launch a new version of its wildly popular Game Boy Advance portable game player so it can focus on the latest hit hand-held machine, the DS.

"I would have a second thought about using our resources on what would be the next generation of Game Boy Advance, considering the strong support DS is now enjoying," President Satoru Iwata told Reuters on the first day of the Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3).

"The Japanese game market is now evolving around DS. We don't need to do something that will pour cold water on the situation."

E3 is an annual trade show for the nearly $30 billion global video game industry.

Nintendo, known for games featuring characters such as Donkey Kong, Mario and Pokemon, said a third-party research shows about 16 million of its dual-screened Nintendo DS machines have been sold worldwide, millions more than Sony Corp.'s (SNE) rival PlayStation Portable (PSP) hand-held.

Strong demand for DS, and its innovative casual games such as "Nintendogs," in 2005 helped the entire Japanese game market post growth for the first time in five years.

Nintendo has sold more than 74 million units of the Game Boy Advance series as of December 2005, cementing the Japanese video game maker's dominance in the portable game machine market.

Iwata also said more than 10 software titles will be available in time for the launch of its upcoming game console, Wii, which is set for release in the fourth quarter of 2006 to compete with Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Xbox 360 and Sony's upcoming PlayStation 3.

Although Nintendo dominates the market for hand-held game machines, it trails Sony and Microsoft in the console market.

Having a wide range of popular software at the time of the launch is considered crucial for success in the game console market.

Iwata said the number of Wii launch titles would be in the double digits to avoid repeating a disappointing performance of its current generation console GameCube, which had a tepid start in part due to limited availability of game software.

"I am aware that we cannot win user support by offering only a few titles at the launch like we did for Nintendo 64 and GameCube ... We want to make it a double digit and we are able to do that," he said.

Earlier this week, Nintendo said launch titles for Wii would include the next version of its popular Zelda game, "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," sport game software package "Wii Sports" and Ubisoft's fighting game "Red Steel."

Although the Wii (pronounced "we"), also known by its code name "Revolution," is described as a next-generation console competing head on with Xbox 360 and PS3, Nintendo does not consider them as rivals, Iwata said.

"Our target is not to fight the battle in the next-generation console market, but to expand the game market and game population," Iwata said. "We are fighting not with Sony or Microsoft, but with indifference among our potential customers."

Nintendo offers Wii with a motion-sensor enabled controller, which looks like a TV remote and allows users to direct action on the screen by swinging it like a bat, a sword, a racquet or a golf club, in an effort to entice people outside the segment of hard-core game players with an easy-to-use console.

"We are the only one who has clearly made it a mission to lure those who don't play games and those who have quit playing games, and to break down a wall in a household between players and non-players," Iwata said. "If that goal is achieved, there is a good chance that we can be number one."