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Nintendo: Here's the Wii 2... Just Wait a Year! Oh, BTW, Profits Are Way Down

It's getting uglier out there for Nintendo (NTYDO). The company finally announced its long-awaited follow-up to its Wii gaming system -- kinda sorta, at least. Gamers will have to wait until later this summer for even a preview... and the Wii 2 won't actually be available until summer 2012. Some unveiling, since now its rivals have plenty of time to prepare for what should have been Nintendo's surprise attack.

Nintendo apparently hoped to ignite enough interest in the Wii 2 for investors to overlook the news that its net profits plummeted 66 percent last year (that is, the year ended March 31). Good luck with that! Especially given that the company's bleeding seems unlikely to slow for, well, at least another year.

What Nintendo's not saying
It rarely makes sense to announce that you're going to announce something. Nintendo says it will show the Wii 2 at this summer's Electronic Entertainment Expo. I've been going to E3 for more than a decade, and I've never seen a major video-game console maker tipping its hand this way. The whole point of E3 is to surprise people with the breaking news. To keep gamers and investors calm, Nintendo had to show its ace early.

Second, this big announcement comes less than a month after the "record-breaking" Nintendo 3DS mobile console launch. Nintendo hasn't said anything other than the 3DS was its fasting-selling mobile device ever, but it evidently hasn't sold fast enough for Nintendo to believe it will keep its financial picture rosy this year.

The epitome of weird public relations
Third, Nintendo's Wii 2 announcement is just plain strange. Here's the full text of Nintendo's press release (PDF), via SlashGear:

To whom it may concern:

Re: Wii's successor system

Nintendo Co., Ltd. has decided to launch in 2012 a system to succeed Wii, which the company has sold 86.01 million units on a consolidated shipment basis between its launch in 2006 and the end of March 2011.

We will show a playable model of the new system and announce more specifications at the E3 Expo, which will be held June 7-9, 2011, in Los Angeles.

Sales of this new system have not been included in the financial forecasts announced today for the fiscal term ending March 2012.


Stilted wording aside, there's basically no useful information here aside from the oblique reference to the system actually coming out after March 2012. There's already lots of speculation that the Wii 2 controllers will have touchscreens, that the Wii 2 will probably go HD, and other details that Nintendo probably wants to keep under wraps until E3.

But the cat is already halfway out of the bag -- and that, I suspect, will both frustrate potential Wii 2 customers who want to know more and also tip off Microsoft (MSFT) and Sony (SNE). Those companies can now play off this desperate announcement and ramp up their own plans for June -- and Nintendo shouldn't be surprised at all.

Photo courtesy of Nany Hoff // CC 2.0
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