Iwata rules out Wii price cut, next console a long way off

Nintendo president says Wii Music, Animal Crossing disappoint with 2.65 million, 3.38 million sales; Vitality Sensor due in 2010; Wii Sports Resort, Wii Fit Plus and New Super Mario Bros. target 10 million units.

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In light of declining Wii sales, analysts have been projecting a price cut for the system for months. However, Nintendo has stood its ground, refusing to drop the price on its latest console, which has retailed in the US for $249.99 since its launch in November 2006.

Still waiting for a price drop to pick one up?
Still waiting for a price drop to pick one up?

In a transcript of Nintendo's post-earnings conference call translated by GameSpot, Iwata said there were no plans for price cuts at the moment, saying that price hasn't been the reason for declining hardware sales. Instead, he pointed to weakness in the system's recent lineup of titles. For example, in the same quarter that Nintendo launched Wii Fit and Mario Kart Wii last year, the publisher had no major releases.

Nintendo expects that situation to be remedied shortly, as the company's slate for the rest of the year is being forecast favorably against last year's launches. Iwata said that last year's big Wii launches in the back half of the year--Wii Music and Animal Crossing: City Folk--failed to live up to expectations, selling 2.65 million and 3.38 million copies worldwide, respectively. By contrast, the publisher expects its 2009 lineup--the recently released Wii Sports Resort and the upcoming Wii Fit Plus and New Super Mario Bros. Wii--to each surpass the 10 million units sold worldwide milestone in its current fiscal year (12 months ending March 31, 2010).

Iwata also shed a little light on the company's decision to pursue the Wii Vitality Sensor pulse-monitoring peripheral. He said the company likes to challenge itself with such unproven concepts at least every two years and explained the reasoning behind the sensor's E3 unveiling.

"At this year's E3, there was a danger that we were being perceived as a company that creates many sequels," Iwata said, adding, "As a time frame, we would like to bring this to [retail] not too late into next year, but as mentioned before, in software, the last bit of effort is very important so we'd like to withhold an exact time frame."

Looking beyond the Wii, Iwata answered a question about the next generation of Nintendo console hardware and how it won't be coming any time soon.

"We [don't believe] we are currently approaching the end of a cycle and must start thinking about releasing the next piece of hardware at all," Iwata said. "And so we are not setting a determination on how long this console should remain active. Of course, research into hardware is ongoing, and we are developing the next console. When we determine that the ideas of our employees match the flow of the world, and we can provide the appropriate amount of stock at a reasonable price, that is when we can start talking about when to release the next piece of hardware. But we feel that this is not something that will happen at any time in the near future."

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