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Nintendo reveals new games to build on Switch's strength

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 - 09:23

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Nintendo Co announced a slate of new titles for its new hybrid console Switch, moving to capitalise on early excitement for its newest video-game system.

[TOKYO] Nintendo Co announced a slate of new titles for its new hybrid console Switch, moving to capitalise on early excitement for its newest video-game system.

A Pokemon role-playing game for the Switch is in development, Kyoto-based Nintendo said Tuesday on a webcast at the start of the industry's annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.

The company and Ubisoft Entertainment SA will introduce a new Super Mario game only for Switch on Aug 29. Other titles include Switch versions of popular games such Metroid 4 and Rocket League. Many of the new products will be multiplayer.

"This changes the game," Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of North America, said in a video at the start of the presentation. "Travel the world, play anywhere with anyone."

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Nintendo, a pioneer in the video-game industry, had struggled in recent years as new devices disappointed and demand shifted toward edgier, shooter games that didn't fit the company's family-friendly image. A turnaround began after the Pokemon Go mobile game created a global sensation last year and the company released its latest device, the Switch, in March.

The Switch's unique design, which unifies home and mobile gaming, has made it an early hit with gamers, becoming Nintendo's fastest-selling console in North America.

The positive reaction since the machine's debut on March 3 has sent Nintendo shares up more than 40 per cent, climbing to the highest level since January 2009. The U.S.-listed shares rose 1.6 per cent to US$39.25 at the close in New York.

Nintendo had said it expects to sell 12.74 million Switch units by the end of March, almost the same amount its predecessor, the Wii U, has sold during its lifetime. That strong early demand has made investors more confident in comparing the Switch to 2006's Wii, which sold 101 million units to become the company's most successful home console.

Achieving the sales targets will depend on the quality of titles Nintendo releases through the rest of the year and during its first holiday season. Those will include the new Mario Odyssey game, which will be released on Oct 27. Dates for the new Pokemon and Metroid games weren't given, indicating a schedule for 2018 or later.

In an interview at the show, Mr Fils-Aime said the Switch wasn't designed to replace the company's 3DS handheld, which went on sale in 2011.

"We're trying to have this great content on both platforms and keep them vibrant and strong," he said. Mr Fils-Aime stood by the company's prediction for sales of 35 million units of Switch software in the current fiscal year.

"Our challenge right now is increasing the supply chain, getting more products in the hands of consumers," he said. "If anything, that's the biggest negative."

The company is also focused on making use of its characters in other forms, whether they be collectible figures for its Amiibo games or theme parks, such as the one Universal Studios is building in Japan.

"You'll have Super Nintendo Worlds at every Universal theme park," Mr Fils-Aime said.

Nintendo's deep roster of games on display on Tuesday was in contrast to last year, when its E3 lineup was dominated by just one title: Zelda. Now the momentum is in the company's favour, according to Michael Pachter, an analyst with Wedbush Securities in Los Angeles.

"The Switch is working so far," he said. "It's only a few months. Let's see if it gets through Christmas at this level."

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