Nintendo Wii U to Launch After March 2012

Nintendo said Friday its new Wii U game console will go on sale during the next fiscal year that begins in April, and the company will look to avoid the problems it has had with its latest handheld.

"Based on the bitter experiences we have had with the Nintendo 3DS, we are making every effort to prepare so that the Wii U will not stumble during its launch," said Nintendo president Satoru Iwata.

Iwata said the final version of the console will be on display at the E3 conference which is set for June in Los Angeles. That suggests the company will begin shipping the Wii U after summer but in time for the 2012 holiday season, in keeping with past launches.

The Wii U has a set-up box similar to the current Wii, but also has a small tablet-like gamepad that is linked wirelessly and has dual thumb-controlled joysticks and control buttons. The tablet can be used together with the main box to play games shown on a TV, or independently on its own smaller screen.

Nintendo has said the high-definition game system will have strong third-party developer tools and will launch together with well-known titles. But the company rankled game fans when it showed footage from other game systems at presentations for the Wii U during last year's E3.

Iwata spoke about Nintendo's results for its first half that ended in September, which it released Thursday. The company slashed its outlook for the fiscal year through March and now expects a ¥20 billion (US$263 million) net loss, after saying just three months ago it could make an annual ¥20 billion profit. In May the company had predicted a net profit of ¥110 billion.

He said the losses were due in part to large price cuts on the 3DS the company made less than six months after its launch, but he expected a strong holiday season based on the large number of games for the handheld that are due over the coming months.

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