Nintendo announces Wii 2 console

Older gamer playing Wii Wii was credited with attracting non-traditional gamers, including older people

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Nintendo has announced it will launch a new version of its Wii console in 2012.

No technical details about the machine have been revealed, but gamers will get an early preview at the E3 Expo in Los Angeles in June.

The original Wii proved a runaway hit for Nintendo when it launched five years ago.

However, sales have been gradually declining in the face of tough competition from PlayStation, XBox 360 and mobile gaming platforms.

Wii was the first console of the current generation to offer motion controlled gameplay.

In the past year, Microsoft has introduced its Kinect system for XBox, while Sony launched PlayStation Move.

Nintendo's chief executive, Satoru Iwata suggested that his company was preparing a fresh innovation.

"It will offer a new way of playing games within the home," he said.

Gameplay

Some observers had speculated that the Wii 2 would simply update the existing machine, adding a handful of features such as high definition graphics.

However Johnny Minkley, an editor at Eurogamer.net, believes that Nintendo could be planning a broader redesign.

"The talk was about Wii HD, but I do not see Nintendo doing that. It will do something more innovative," he told BBC News.

Mr Minkley noted that Nintendo marketed the original Wii around its motion-sensing handset, rather than technical specifications - something he expects to see repeated.

"PlayStation 3 and XBox 360 were part of the graphics arms race.

"Nintendo would never launch a console based on the strength of hardware. Theirs has to have a gameplay point to it," he said.

Sales slump

The Wii took an early lead in the battle of the consoles soon after it launched in late 2006.

A combination of its relatively low price and its appeal to non-traditional gamers - including women and older players - helped the company sell 20m units in the first year.

In the financial year 2009/10, Nintendo shipped 20.1m Wii consoles. However, that fell to 15.1m in 2010/11.

Nintendo's profits for the same period slipped by 66% from 228bn yen (£1.6bn) to 77bn yen (£570m)

Market data suggested that Wii's share of new console sales have now slipped to second place behind Sony's PS3

In the first three months of 2011, PS3 held a 36% share, compared with 32% for the Wii and 31% for XBox 360.

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