Nintendo says Wii will remain in short supply

Nintendo expects its popular Wii game machine will continue to be in short supply, while Sony said it is seeing increased PlayStation 3 sales after announcing a price cut.

3 min read
SANTA MONICA, Calif.--Nintendo expects its popular Wii game machine will continue to be in short supply, while Sony said it is already seeing increased sales of its PlayStation 3 after announcing a price cut Monday.

The two Japanese video-game console makers presented an outlook of their business to game developers and industry executives at the E3 Media and Business Summit, the major video game trade show in the United States.

The Wii continues to be in short supply, according to Reggie Fils-Aimee, the president of Nintendo of America. "Wii has effectively been sold out for all 33 weeks," he said. Nevertheless, he said, Wii "is poised to become the No. 1 platform worldwide very soon."

The Wii, which uses a hand-held motion-sensitive controller, has been a success in another way. It has attracted a significant number of older gamers, Fils-Aimee said. In Wii households, he said, one in eight men older than 50 regularly use the console. He said that was a first in video-game history.

"Our next challenge is to destroy the psychological barrier that separates veteran gamers from novice players," he said.

To further broaden Wii's appeal, in 2008 Nintendo will introduce Wii Fit, a game that encourages physical fitness. Players stand on a Wii balance board to register their body mass index, and then head-butt virtual soccer balls, twirl a virtual hula-hoop, and perfect their balance.

Fils-Aimee, who would not state a price for the new package, said that the board would be used as a control device for future games as well.

The company also introduced the Wii Zapper, a $20 frame that holds the Wii's existing controllers in a combination that creates new types of game moves and weaponry.

In addition to the 60 games now available for the Wii, 100 new titles will be available by the holiday shopping season. The Nintendo DS portable system will have an increase in the number of game titles to 440 by the end of the year, from 300 now.

Jack Tretton, president of Sony's computer entertainment division, said that cutting the price of the 60GB PlayStation 3 to $500 has already doubled sales at its top five retailers. Analysts had said that the console was too expensive to attract a wide audience.

While both Nintendo's $250 Wii and Sony's PlayStation 3 were introduced last November, Nintendo has sold 2.8 million machines, twice as many as Sony.

Microsoft's Xbox 360 console, introduced 18 months ago, has sold 5.4 units, according to NPD Group, a market analysis firm.

The price cut "bodes well for us going forward," said Peter Dille, senior vice president of marketing for Sony Computer Entertainment America.

Sony demonstrated its newest PlayStation 3 titles, as well as games for its older PlayStation 2 and PlayStation Portable, or PSP, platforms.

It also introduced a number of first-person shooter games and several aimed to appeal to wider audiences, including LittleBigPlanet, a game in which players create their own physical elements in a virtual world, interact with them, and then share them with friends online using Sony's PlayStation Live service.

"We will have 200 games for the PlayStation 3 worldwide this year," Dille said. "Everyone is very confident going forward."

This year's E3 has been greatly downsized after criticism that the annual event attracted more video game obsessed adolescents than business people. Still, Sony, as well as its chief rivals Microsoft and Nintendo, used colored lights, smoke, and deafening sound effects to present their newest games to smaller audiences.