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Why Nintendo Needs to Unveil the Wii 2 as Soon as Possible

Game Informer Magazine says Nintendo (NTYDO) will finally announce the successor to its once-groundbreaking Wii console this summer. That's great news, because Nintendo is behind the 8-ball here, and needs to regain its momentum in the console-game arena as quickly as possible.

Microsoft Kinect trumps Wii
The motion-based Wii remote replaced the standard joystick and was absolutely cutting edge -- in 2006. Sony (SNE) has already responded with its own motion stick, Move, for the PlayStation 3. Microsoft (MSFT) chucked the stick altogether and released the controller-free Kinect last November.

As my BNET colleague Erik Sherman noted at the time, Microsoft sold more than 10 million Kinect units within the first four months. This week it announced an official Kinect development kit for PCs. The Wii had a huge impact five years ago, but its technological impact today is virtually nil.

Nintendo earnings are hurtin'
Nintendo's operating profits dropped 46 percent in the October-December quarter on falling Wii sales. Worse, Nintendo missed its holiday 2010 target launch date for the Nintendo 3DS. The just-released handheld is selling well, but Nintendo acknowledges that the late delivery severely hurt its outlook.

All of which leaves the Japanese game giant with little in the hopper -- unless it can push out a Wii successor that puts it ahead of its rivals.

Popular games require better tech
The Wii technology is so antiquated that developers are having a hard time bringing their XBox 360 or PlayStation 3 games to the system. XBox and PS3 have comparable specs, so releasing a game on both platforms doesn't present many problems. A Wii version, however, usually has to be dumbed down because of the console's inferior graphics, audio, and processing.

Game Informer says that it expects the Wii 2 to be, at minimum, HD-compatible.

[I]t will offer competitive specifications. Moving to HD should greatly help Nintendo and its new console in getting more multi-platform triple-A titles like Portal 2 or Mortal Kombat.

With Wii sales at an all-time low, gamers are showing with their dollars that the original Wii isn't cutting it anymore. It sounds like Nintendo is listening.

Photo courtesy of lucamascaro // CC 2.0

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