Faced with rapidly declining sales and a less enthusiastic than expected reception to its newest handheld gaming device, Nintendo has confirmed that it will be releasing a successor to the Wii in 2012.
A prototype of the new device, which has been rumored for the past several weeks, will be unveiled at E3, the video game industry's annual trade show in June.
The announcement came as Nintendo announced its lowest operating profit in five years. The company had a net profit of 77.6 billion yen ($946 million) in its just completed fiscal year – a 66 percent drop from a year ago. Revenues were down 29 percent to 1.01 billion yen ($12.3 million).
Wii sales have been flagging over the last two years as prices on high definition systems like Microsoft's Xbox 360 and Sony's PlayStation 3 have fallen and high definition television sets have become more commonplace in people's homes. Nintendo has been under pressure for some time from analysts and investors to become more competitive on the high def front.
The company announced plans for the new system, which it dubbed a "successor" to the Wii, in a short statement issued in conjunction with the earnings. It declined to give further details about how the system would differentiate itself from the Wii and existing competitors.
"As for the details of exactly what it will be, we have decided that it is best to let people experience it for themselves at E3," said Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president and CEO. "So I won't talk about specific details today, but it will offer a new way of playing games within the home."
The fact that the new console will be playable at E3 surprised some in the industry, who noted that could indicate a launch in the first half of 2012.