Nintendo's moment of truth is at hand. The
Japanese game maker announced Thursday that its Wii U video game
console will go on sale in November.
The launch is crucial for the company, which hopes the new device can beat off the challenge posed by rival consoles and from the increasing use of smartphones and tablets as mobile gaming devices.
The Wii U is the successor to Nintendo's best-selling Wii which launched in 2006. It will be available on November 18 in the US at a starting price of 299 dollars, with a deluxe version of the dual-screen console selling for 349 dollars. The device will go on sale in Europe on November 30 and in Japan on December 8.
The previous Wii was a huge hit, selling 95 million units thanks to its innovative motion-sensing controllers and casual games that allowed it to outsell Sony's Playstation 3 and Microsoft's Xbox 360, even though they featured far richer graphics.
But advances by Microsoft and Sony have wiped out the advantage of the Wii, which has been further challenged by the growth of social gaming on Facebook and on mobile devices such as Apple's iPhone and iPad, and smartphones powered by Google's Android operating system.
That shift has impacted the whole video game industry. Retail sales of video game hardware in the US fell 20 per cent in the past two months compared to last year.
The Wii U's attempt to stem the tide is a 6.2-inch screen controller that offers gamers another view of the action, and provides them extra information as they manipulate games through the main screen on their TV.
Nintendo is also positioning the Wii U as a set-top digital television box, allowing users to use the controller as a remote control for their TV, search for live and recorded shows as well as online videos and get additional information on programmes they're watching.
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