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October 22, 2016

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Nintendo’s new console fails to impress

INVESTORS hit the sell button on Nintendo shares yesterday as gamers and analysts were left underwhelmed by a sneak peek at the video game giant’s long-awaited new console.

One company watcher called the Nintendo Switch “disappointing,” while gamers were left wondering how much it would cost and whether it was compatible with smartphones.

In a three-minute video posted on its YouTube channel on Thursday, Nintendo unveiled the hybrid machine which can be played at home and on the go, thanks to a removable screen with the controllers attached.

The device is due to be released in March.

“It’s a disappointing console,” said Amir Anvarzadeh, Singapore-based head of Japanese equity sales at BGC Partners.

“It doesn’t enhance the gaming experience when you have a smartphone in your pocket.”

The Kyoto-based firm’s share price dropped nearly 8 percent at one stage yesterday before ending the day at 25,185 yen (US$243), down 6.54 percent.

The console is seen as key to Nintendo’s business, as it competes with Sony’s hugely popular PlayStation 4.

Nintendo, whose Switch uses cartridges rather than discs, is looking for a hit product to offset disappointing sales of its Wii U console. After years of pressure, Nintendo abandoned its consoles-only policy and entered into the smartphone game market earlier this year.

In March, the company released “Miitomo” — a free-to-play and interactive game that allows users to create “Mii” avatars — as it tries to compete in an industry that has increasingly gone online.

This summer it scored another hit with the Pokemon Go app, giving a boost to a Nintendo-created brand, although the game was developed by a US firm and the financial impact on the Japanese company’s bottom line will be limited.

Nomura Securities analyst Junko Yamamura was more charitable than some, calling the Nintendo Switch “formidable.”

But she added that it would not redefine gaming in the way that the original Wii console did after its launch a decade ago.

“The concept for the product is in line with our expectation that it will be a hybrid of a stationary console and a handheld device,” she said.



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