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Nintendo wants to fix with Switch console what it messed up with Wii U

Nintendo Switch
Source: Nintendo

After the rather disastrous performance of the Wii U, Nintendo will explore new waters next March with its new console — the Nintendo Switch.

The new console, a hybrid of a home entertainment device and a portable game system, is straight out of the company's playbook: Look for ways to present video games that are vastly different from the competition. But it could be an uphill battle.

Nintendo Switch will allow players to play the same game on their living room couch or on the go, the company said. At home, it sits in a docking station that's connected to the TV, but owners can lift a screen out of the dock, attach controllers to it and make it a portable device, which happens to be approximate size and appearance as a Wii U controller.

"Nintendo Switch allows gamers the freedom to play however they like," said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America's president and COO. "It gives game developers new abilities to bring their creative visions to life by opening up the concept of gaming without boundaries."


It's just one of Nintendo's strategies for getting the company back on track. Nintendo shares have seen big gains this year as the company has more broadly expanded into the mobile market, with titles like "Pokemon Go" and the upcoming "Super Mario Run."

While Nintendo teased consumer appetites for the Switch at an event Thursday, it did not announce the system's price, specifications, exact launch date, or which titles it will debut with. Nintendo has showcased "The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wind" with the system, but has not confirmed it will launch simultaneously with Switch. The company said it doesn't plan on releasing that information until shortly before the system goes on sale, which it said would be in March.

One of Nintendo's biggest problems with the Wii U was that many developers had stopped making games for the platform at the end of its lifespan. To pre-empt any criticism, the company announced a list of nearly 50 publishing partners, including all major game-making studios like Activision, Electronic Arts and Take-Two Interactive Software.

The company has also acknowledged it failed to market the Wii U properly, neglecting to showcase what made it unique. With the three minute teaser video it released Thursday about Switch, it's hoping to rectify that for its next generation system.

"When we articulate the core prop that is [Switch], I am convinced the product is unique and differentiating," Fils-Aime told CNBC.com in June at the E3 expo. "There's nothing I've seen ... that dissuades me from that belief. As long as we effectively communicate why you've got to have it, we will do well."

Nintendo shares are up 3 percent from their close Wednesday, though the stock has been losing ground since the announcement trailer was released.

Analysts, including Wedbush's Michael Pachter, who has been a long-time Nintendo critic, were impressed with what Nintendo showed in the video.

He also said If Nintendo gets the pricing right — about $200 to $250 including docking station and extra controller — it should be "a big success."