SAN FRANCISCO - Nintendo President Satoru Iwata on Tuesday delivered his clearest message yet to gamers about the company’s future: Don’t count the Wii U out yet.
Nintendo, threatened with becoming an also-ran in the market for home consoles, announced a half-dozen new titles for the Wii U in an online presentation for the annual Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles, including a multiplayer shooter game called “Splatoon” and “Super Smash Bros.,” and unveiled a collectible-toy platform for the console called Amiibo.
The maker of “Super Mario” and “Zelda” has struggled to revive sales of the Wii U after missteps including delays in getting key titles to stores.
“Nintendo is all about invention and reinvention and bringing Nintendo magic to consumers,” Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo America, said in an interview. Nintendo, based in Kyoto, Japan, has no plans to end production of the Wii or cut prices, he said.
The company also is jumping into the multibillion dollar collectible-toy category with Amiibo, figures that users place on the Wii U’s GamePad tablet to enter a Nintendo character into a game. There will be about 10 Amiibos for purchase with the “Super Smash Bros.” game, and more by year-end, Fils-Aime said. He declined to say what they will cost.
Nintendo previously called the Amiibos the Nintendo Figurine Platform for the Wii U. Similar to Activision’s Skylanders and Walt Disney Co.’s Infinity, it combines video games with collectible figures. Unlike the others, Nintendo’s will work across multiple games and don’t require a portal for wireless communication between the game machine and toy.
Nintendo also showed “Splatoon.” The title, available next year, lets two teams of four take on roles as squids that can morph into people, shooting different colored ink to take over a battlefield in timed matches.
Nintendo is trying to convince retailers its consoles are viable. The Wii U’s holiday sales could be the deciding factor. “They have to perform this year,” said Yves Guillemot, chief executive officer of Ubisoft.
On Monday, Microsoft and Sony took turns parading their exclusive video-game titles and features as they target the year-end holiday season.
Microsoft showcased its in-house shooting game “Sunset Overdrive,” the exclusive “Forza 2,” and a package of re-released “Halo” titles, all on sale by the holidays. Hours later, Sony countered with early access to “Destiny,” a highly anticipated action title, and the fall release in Canada and the U.S. of the $99 PlayStation TV set-top box that lets users play old titles on televisions without a dedicated console.