Technology

Nintendo announces date for NX console

Animal Crossing Image copyright Nintendo
Image caption Popular game Animal Crossing will be launched as a smartphone app in the autumn

Nintendo's much-anticipated next-generation console will launch in March 2017, the company has said.

Codenamed NX, the console had been expected to launch in time for Christmas.

Analysts agree the new device is much needed after disappointing sales for the Wii U.

At an earnings briefing, Nintendo also announced it would release four more smartphone games this business year, as it diversified its business.

The Japanese video-game maker reported a 24 billion yen ($216m, £147m) loss for January to March, bigger than the loss it reported the previous year.

Research company IHS's director of games, Pier Harding-Rolls, said the date of the new console launch was a setback for Nintendo.

"Ideally, they would have preferred to launch in 2016 to catch the holiday shopping season," he told the BBC.

The delay could either be as a result of in-house games not being ready or problems with the hardware, he added.

Nintendo has had ups and downs with its consoles - with the Wii proving a hit but the Wii U failing to engage the public.

"When the Wii U launched no-one really understood what it was," said Mr Harding-Rolls.

"The two-screen experience wasn't communicated well, so whatever they are bringing to market this time has to be unique and communicated clearly."

The company said it could cease production of the Wii U by March 2018.

Betting on apps

Image copyright Nintendo
Image caption Nintendo's first smartphone game, Miitomo, was released in March

Sales of the Wii U console have lagged behind those of Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox, while sales of Nintendo's handheld 3DS console have also flattened as users turn to mobiles and tablets as alternatives.

Nintendo forecast Wii U sales at 800,000 this business year, from 3.26 million the previous year.

It said it would release Pokemon Sun and Pokemon Moon for the 3DS in time for Christmas.

Nintendo also announced it was working on smartphone apps based on two of its most popular titles - Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem, both of which will be released in the autumn.

Fire Emblem is a tactical role-playing game that gives users control of a small anime army, while Animal Crossing is based on living in a village, performing tasks and furnishing a home.

Nintendo's first mobile game - Miitomo - has already accrued 10 million users since its March launch, according to Nintendo.

The game allows players to create customisable avatars called Miis, which they can dress and photograph.

More information about the NX is expected to be announced during the E3 games conference in June.

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