06th September 2013 Could November Console War finish Nintendo?

Nintendo (NTDOY) seem to be floundering as November console launches could see it become a casualty of war.


Taking a back seat this November with no major console release of its own, Nintendo has announced that it will drop the price of its Wii U from $349.99 to $299.99 in a bid to stay competitive with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. The price change will come into effect at the end of this month with the release of a bundle featuring The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker HD on September 20th. The Wind Waker was originally released on the GameCube in 2003 and although it received great reviews and over half a million pre-orders total sales of 3.07 million copies put it just behind Majora's Mask and well behind Ocarina of Time.


Ass kicker, name taker and Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime stated that consumers who purchased the Wii U "love the system" but want more software. To date the Wii U has had notoriously few options in terms of games with many fans clamouring for a new Zelda release. The Wind Waker's lack of success first time around makes it an interesting choice to jump start console sales but Nintendo are possibly hoping that the games good reviews and a second chance will boost sales this time around.


Nintendo have also announced the release of the 2DS, a handheld device that will play 3DS games, without 3D, and retail for $129.99. Fils-Aime said the 2DS is for "the entry-level consumer looking for lower-priced access to a fantastic library". Shortly after its 2011 release Nintendo dropped the price of the 3DS to a loss making $169.99 though it did become profitable again in 2012. The October 12th launch of the non-3D, non-folding device is the same day that Pokemon X and Y hits shelves which it will hope to piggy back off the success of.


Techcrunch has called on Nintendo to write off the Wii U as a loss with the company's last quarterly statement showing that just 160,000 units had been sold worldwide in the 3-month period ending in July.


With poor sales Nintendo are finding it hard to attract third party developers to the console. While Activision (ATVI) CEO Eric Hirshberg has recently given a nod of support to the company the majority of Wii U content is produced by Nintendo, leaving large gaps between in house releases and no other publishers to fill them.


Nintendo ADR shares have recovered to $15 since trading as low as $11 at the start of the year. Nintendo shares haven't been this low since the end of 2005 and Forbes reports that the shares entered oversold territory last Friday. While that might provide a good entry point for investors, that's only on the grounds that the share price will recover. A cheaper Wii U, an entry level 3Dless 3DS and a number of high profile releases across its multiple devices such as Pokemon, Super Mario 3D World and Donkey Kong should give Nintendo a strong quarter.


But with Wii U sales already suffering with no competition how can sales be expected to keep up in to next year with the Xbox One and PS4? Committed to motion sensor and touch screen technology, picked up and used by very few third party developers, Nintendo could end up forced out of the console market into a solely publishing position as happened to Sega on the back of its Dreamcast launch which couldn't match the PS2.


But surely something like that could never happen to as dominant a power in the games industry as Nintendo? I mean, it would be the same as if Nokia (NOK) stopped making mobile phones!



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