Nintendo president: 'The Wii has stalled'

Satoru Iwata says top-selling console has hit a wall due to dearth of "high demand" software, and the company is now "preparing for next year".
Written by Tom Magrino, Contributor

Though it once appeared to be a tiny sales juggernaut, Nintendo's top-selling Wii console has struggled in 2009.

In July, the Japanese publisher reported April-June revenues that slid 40 percent from a year prior to 253 billion yen (US$2.81 billion). Nintendo didn't fare much better during its July-September quarter, saying Thursday that sales fell 34.5 percent to 548 billion yen (US$6.09 billion) during the first half of its fiscal year.

Nintendo's slipping performance has not gone unnoticed by the publisher's president. As reported by Japan's Mainichi Newspaper and translated by GameSpot, Nintendo executive Satoru Iwata told analysts and investors as part of a post-earnings Q&A that a weak software lineup has contributed to the Wii's sluggish performance.

"The Wii has stalled," Iwata said. "Games of high demand could not be continuously released and the good mood has chilled." Iwata went on to note that it will be difficult to recover from "the slowdown in demand", but he also expressed optimism over Nintendo's ability to continue selling Wiis.

According to Japan's Nikkan Sports (also translated by GameSpot), Iwata said during the conference that Nintendo misjudged market conditions as they pertained to the publisher's sales strategy.

"The mood of the market got colder than expected, and there was a difference in expectations," he said. "Now, we are preparing for next year and thinking about what to do the year after next." Iwata reportedly went on to note that Nintendo is optimistic about its chance to right the Wii's downward sales trend going forward.

Notably, reports have emerged that Nintendo is planning a number of enhancements to its console. Earlier this week, reports surfaced that Nintendo would be introducing Netflix's online video-streaming service to the console, functionality that is already available for the Xbox 360 and will soon be introduced to the PlayStation 3.

Analysts and industry insiders also expect the publisher to launch an HD version of the Wii or an all-new system in 2010 or 2011 to better compete with Microsoft and Sony's consoles.

As for Nintendo's other hit hardware, Nikkan Sports reports that Iwata downplayed suggestions that the DS was losing ground to Apple's increasingly ubiquitous iPhone. "Our presence in the marketplace is growing," he succinctly stated.

Thursday, Nintendo also took the lid off its fourth DS hardware iteration, the DSi XL. The jumbo-size DSi, which features 4.2-inch screens, increased battery life, and a larger stylus, is expected to launch in Japan later this year for 20,000 yen (US$220.50). The device's North American and European launch is expected to follow during the first part of 2010.

Tom Magrino reported for GameSpot.

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