Nintendo plans to jump-start its holiday sales with the Nov. 18 release of its new Wii U high-definition video game console.
Buyers will be able to choose between two Wii U models, for which retailers have been taking pre-orders:
An 8-gigabyte white model ($299.99) with one wireless motion-sensitive GamePad tablet controller, AC adapter, HDMI cable and sensor bar.
A 32-GB black model ($349.99) with GamePad and charging cradle, stand and Nintendo Land game.
Both Wii U systems also will include a new built-in Nintendo TVii service that consolidates a household's TV programming options onto the GamePad's 6.2-inch touch-screen display.
"For us, it was a natural extension of what we have seen with our relationship with Netflix," says Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America president. "Having the integrated second screen really created the opportunity for us to disrupt this entertainment space the way we've disrupted the gaming space."
Nintendo expects to have 50 games, including New Super Mario Bros. U and Wii Fit U, available between the system's Nov. 18 launch and the end of March 2013.
The new Wii U pairs a more powerful, high-definition console system with the new GamePad controller, which sports two joysticks and traditional buttons, along with a built-in gyroscope, accelerometer and camera.
"Nintendo just took a giant leap forward on innovation," says Paul Raines, CEO of video game retail chain GameStop. "No one has a tablet that plays with a controller. No one had high-definition and backwards compatibility with old Nintendo titles. That is pretty exciting stuff."
With its pricing, Nintendo has hit a $299 price point "that won't scare people," says analyst P.J. McNealy of Digital World Research.
However, the game company will need to "clearly explain the value proposition" of the $349 model to consumers, he says.
The Wii U launch should help kick-start lagging sales of video game systems and games, he says. The $17 billion console game industry has seen nine consecutive months of sales declines, according to market tracking firm NPD Group.
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