The company’s name has long been synonymous with video games, but with the largest U.S. industry trade show set to begin this week, experts say that the pressure is on Nintendo to perform with their next generation console, according to Reuters reports published Friday.
The gaming giant’s recent hardware products have produced mixed results. The Wii helped popularize motion-controlled gaming and sold a reported 95 million units, “making it one of the most successful videogame products in history,” according to writer Liana B. Baker.
However, as Mashable’s Samantha Murphy reported back in January, the company reported a $625 million net loss for a nine-month period ending December 31, 2011 — a loss blamed largely on “sluggish sales” of their 3DS handheld device.
So with the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, scheduled to be held in Los Angeles from June 5 to 7, analysts are keeping a close eye on the Japanese gaming giant’s latest console, the Wii U. The new unit “might help the Japanese company’s battle to reclaim its crown in an industry that is struggling to grow,” Baker said, adding that some analysts believe that “Nintendo’s back is against the wall.”
Jesse Divnich, consultant and analyst at research firm EEDAR, told Reuters that the company should be focusing on, in Baker’s words, showing “legacy titles that have pop culture recognition,” such as new entries in the Super Mario Bros. and Legend of Zelda franchises. Divnich said that the company “should really play it safe and give us a reason to get excited over the Wii U,” which will officially be unveiled during the convention.
“Last year, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata’s pitch for a prototype Wii U fell flat, sending the company’s shares tumbling,” Baker wrote. “He will have to make amends this year by identifying who is the device’s target audience — core gamers who like to play shooter games, or the casual audience that bowled in their living rooms and swung virtual golf clubs when the Wii was introduced in 2006.”
“Investors are expecting to be disappointed by the Wii U, said Mizuho Securities analyst Takeshi Koyama. Nintendo shares are trading just over 9,000 yen ($115.35), lows not seen since November 2003,” she added. “Macquarie analysts disagreed, however, saying it will take a couple of years to show clearly whether the Wii U is a success or failure. And with $14 billion in cash, much of it made from the boon supplied by the original Wii, Nintendo has plenty of runway to gamble.”
In related news, Nintendo has announced that they will be broadcasting a trio of pre-E3 presentations, one for each of the three major gaming markets (Europe, Japan, and North America) beginning on Sunday. According to Siliconera, Nintendo officials will discuss “the concept behind the Wii U,” but the primary details, including the console’s price, will most likely be announced Tuesday during Nintendo’s official E3 press conference.