Nintendo's New Wii Coming in November With Bigger Focus on TV

Device Promises Second-Screen TV Experiences

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Nintendo is betting that its forthcoming Wii U, the world's first new video game console since 2006, will revive sales with a broader offering of games, movies and TV shows.

Nintendo is promising a second-screen TV experience through its Wii U console.
Nintendo is promising a second-screen TV experience through its Wii U console.

The Wii U will start selling Nov. 18 for $300 and up in the U.S., with new titles ranging from "Super Mario" and "Skylanders" for kids to more traditional shooting games like "Call of Duty." The console also will offer a free TV service starting in the U.S. and Canada, company officials said Thursday in New York. Sales begin in December in Japan.

The Wii U's TV service, called Nintendo TVii, lets users search across the web and live TV for shows like "Mad Men," giving a menu in one place with free, paid and subscription services. It will connect to web-based streaming services from Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. It can also interact with TiVo boxes.

A promotional video also promises second-screen TV experiences, such as getting more information using the device during a live NFL game.

Nintendo is beefing up the entertainment features of its console while also responding to growing competition from games played online and on smartphones from players including Apple, which will begin selling the iPhone 5 next week. New titles made specifically for the Wii U will highlight its unique tablet-like controller.

"It's the next advance in gaming," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo's U.S. president. "It's how you will play next."

A deluxe console, with extra features and memory, will cost $350. More than 50 game titles will be released through March to support the platform, the strongest game slate in Nintendo history, Mr. Fils-Aime said.

The most enthusiastic Nintendo fans, who number as many as 7 million, probably won't balk at the Wii U's relatively high price, Michael Pachter, an analyst at Wedbush Securities, said in a research note. Over time, Nintendo may be forced to cut prices because even its new entertainment features can be easily matched, he said.

"Pricing will be too high to sustain demand given competition from other consoles and tablets," Mr. Pachter said.

Nintendo's 3DS handheld player has missed sales projections, in part because of that competition and because of a lack of popular software titles. Nintendo, the world's biggest video-game machine maker, is looking to the Wii U to help it recover from its first annual loss.

The company's effort may be helped by some retailer promotions. Grapevine, Texas-based GameStop, the world's largest specialty retailer, will let users trade in older consoles and smartphones for credits of as much as $400 on certain devices.

The Wii U GamePad features a 6.2 inch screen that provides extra information to players as they manipulate games on their TVs. It also can be used as a primary screen in the home. The machine includes new social-networking features, allowing players to interact with each other.

"The price is probably set just above production costs so the company won't lose money," said Tomoaki Kawasaki, a Tokyo-based analyst at Iwai Cosmo Securities. "I'm paying close attention to whether there will be innovative software."

~Bloomberg News~

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