Nintendo: Wii U will launch in time for 2012 holiday season, use touch-card tech

Nintendo's president says the Wii U will use touch-card technology in its wireless controllers, which also have touchscreens

Nintendo said Friday its next-generation Wii U game console will launch in time for the holiday season in the U.S., Europe and Japan.

The successor to the popular Wii console will integrate a popular touch-card technology into its controllers. Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said the device will use NFC, or near field communication, standards that are widely employed in tap-and-go train passes and other payment systems worldwide.

"It will become possible to create cards and figurines that can electronically read and write data via noncontact NFC," Iwata said in a speech, a copy of which was posted on Nintendo's web site.

"Adoption of this functionality will enable various other possibilities such as using it as a means of making micropayments," he added.

The Nintendo chief said final details about the Wii U will be announced at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, or E3, a major annual game exhibition to be held this year in June in Los Angeles.

The Wii U has a large controller that is similar to a dedicated handheld console, with a touchscreen, motion detection and camera. Its small screen can be used to supplement games played on TVs or replace the larger display entirely.

Iwata spoke a day after his company released poor results for the nine-month period through December. It cut its annual sales targets for the 3DS handheld console launched last year, as well as the original Wii, and said it now forecasts a much deeper loss for the fiscal year than earlier predicted.

He said Nintendo has made strong progress with the 3DS, the successor to the smash-hit DS. When the 3DS stumbled after its launch last year, the company responded with large global price cuts less than six months after launch, which eventually spurred sales but weighed heavily on its bottom line. It also announced a fleet of new game titles.

"In the first half of the next fiscal term, we are now anticipating to get out of the situation that we sell the hardware below cost," Iwata said Friday, emphasizing that the company's efforts have paid off and sales have rebounded strongly.

He added that Nintendo is working to expand StreetPass and SpotPass, the peer-to-peer platforms of the device, which let users communicate and compete via their 3DS consoles. The company is also working to expand its fledgling online shop for the device.

Like many Japanese companies, Nintendo's fiscal year runs from April through March.

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Jay Alabaster

IDG News Service
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