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As Wii U struggles, Nintendo says a single game can alter the fate of a platform

President Satoru Iwata reminds gamers that the Game Boy got off to a slow start, too.

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The Wii U may be struggling at the moment, but it's not the first Nintendo platform to come out of the gate slower than than expected. Speaking with analysts recently about the company's recent poor financial performance, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata reminded people that the Game Boy also was a slow-starter before rising fast thanks to the release of a single title.

"The fate of a video game system is often influenced greatly by the introduction of a single title. As many of you probably remember, before the release of the Pokémon game, Game Boy had been showing slow growth, and many people wondered whether it was the end of Game Boy," Iwata said. "But the Pokémon game singlehandedly changed the landscape of the system, which then started to show the strongest sales in the lifecycle of the system."

Some of the Wii U's upcoming marquee games include Mario Kart 8 (May 30), Super Smash Bros. (2014), and an all-new Legend of Zelda game, among others. These titles could be regarded as system-sellers, but the impact they have on the Wii U's overall prospects remains to be seen. Iwata also made clear that Nintendo isn't banking on the Wii U matching the sales of the original Wii, which is one of the best-selling home consoles of all time with over 100 million units sold to date.

"As I explained back in January, it is true that we cannot draw up a good business plan for Wii U by assuming that Wii U will sell more than Wii did. Therefore, we will need to think very carefully about the balance of revenue and expenses and try to operate by controlling overall costs," Iwata said. "On the other hand, we do not believe that this year's estimate of 3.60 million units of Wii U hardware will be the peak of its lifecycle, and we would like to work hard to make sure that we give sufficient momentum to the system so that we can expect good results in and after the next fiscal year, too. However, as for this fiscal year, as I explained before, the figures you see have been determined by rather conservative estimates."

Also during his briefing with analysts, Iwata shed some light on Nintendo's mysterious upcoming NFC initiative. He said that though Activision (Skylanders) and Disney (Disney Infinity) have seen success in the toys-to-life market, Nintendo may take a different approach.

"Our primary focus, however, is not to develop software that is compatible with figurines. Rather, we have been developing figurines since last year because we believe there may be different approaches or ways to appeal to consumers by using them, and this could also be one way for Nintendo to utilize its character IP," Iwata said.

Nintendo will share more details about its plans for the "toys-to-life" market at E3 next month.

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