WION New Delhi, Delhi, India
Jan 13, 2017, 07.03 AM
Nintendo will launch the Switch, its first new game console in about four years, on March 3 for $299.99 in the United States and 29,980 yen in Japan, said the video game maker.
Nintendo shares were down as much as 3 per cent after the announcement, falling from 25,085 yen beforehand to as low as 24,365 yen in afternoon trade - 3.3 per cent lower than Thursday's closing price. That compared with a 0.8 per cent gain in the benchmark Nikkei 225 share price index.
Nintendo, which began by making playing cards in the late 19th century, is counting on the Switch to revive its earnings which rely heavily on console sales.
Its Wii console, which debuted in 2006, captured casual gamers with popular fitness and sports features, propelling Nintendo's profit to record highs.
But the succeeding Wii U flopped due to a dearth of popular game titles and a consumer migration to smartphone games, pushing the company into a loss for three consecutive years through March 2014.
Analysts said the Switch is likely to offer a richer game lineup than its predecessor as the new console is powered by processor chips based on game developer-friendly architecture by designer ARM.
Sony PS4 showdown
Switch will be crucial for Nintendo, which needs a hit product to offset the flagging fortunes of the Wii U and 3DS, as rival Sony racks up huge sales of the PS4 - it has sold more than 50 million units globally since its debut in late 2013.
In November, Sony started selling the $400 PS4 Pro, which promises even sharper graphics than earlier versions.
After struggling to fix its weak finances, Nintendo abandoned a long-held consoles-only policy and decided to enter the smartphone game market.
Last year, the Super Mario and Donkey Kong maker released "Miitomo" - a free-to-play and interactive game - as it tries to compete in an industry that has increasingly gone online.
It scored another hit with the Pokemon Go app released in July, but the impact on Nintendo's profits will be limited.
The company is the creator of the Pokemon franchise but does not own the licence for the game, which was developed and distributed by US-based Niantic, a spinoff of Google.
Last month, Nintendo released the Super Mario Run game for iPhones, which topped download charts and drew more than 40 million downloads globally in the first four days after its release, according to the company.
But analysts warned its popularity could be hampered by a relatively high $10 price tag for access to the full game, since many online offerings are free.