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Nintendo's Social Play: Game Over?

Nintendo
CNBC.com
Nintendo

Nintendo lost $551 million in its fiscal year ending on March 31, and now it's counting on its new console, the Wii U, to turn everything around.

Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo North America, acknowledged the fact that mobile and social games are eating into his business, but he tried to flip it around, saying that the fact that so many people are familiar with touch-screen games should help the adoption of the Wii U's touch screen controller.

The real question — is it different enough to get people to go out and buy a whole new console? Fils-Aime says it all hinges on the games, and they're worth it. We'll see whether gamers agree when the console goes on sale this fall for the all-important holiday season.

What about the fact that Nintendo traditionally appeals to more casual gamers, the very audience that has ditched pricey consoles for virtually free mobile and social options? Fils-Aime says that the Wii appeals to all gamers — both hard-core and casual. But it seems this new controller is designed with some new features that would be more conducive to shooter games.

Nintendo is jumping on the social bandwagon, not by integrating with Facebook, but with its own social network, the Miiverse, built on Nintendo's platform. It might keep people engaged longer, but they have to want to spend time on Nintendo, rather than playing Facebook games, for today's news to be meaningful to Nintendo's bottom line. We'll be watching the sales numbers this fall.

-By CNBC's Julia Boornstin
Follow Julia Boorstin on Twitter: @JBoorstin

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