Nintendo says it has sold 5 million 3DS consoles in Japan, overcoming slow start

The Japanese game maker says the handheld is now the fastest-selling ever in the Japanese market

Nintendo claims it has sold 5 million 3DS handheld game consoles in Japan, which it says makes the device the fastest-selling game platform ever in the country.

The Kyoto-based firm said the console reached the landmark Sunday, less than a year after its launch on February 26, 2011. It said the number was based on estimates from data it obtained directly from its domestic distributors.

The 3DS was initially snatched up by gaming afficionados but then stumbled badly, forcing the company to suddenly slash its price worldwide less than six months after launch. Nintendo then launched an aggressive sales push for new game titles, a lack of which was a major reason the console initially failed to catch on.

Despite those efforts, Nintendo last month slashed its yearly sales target for the 3DS by 13 percent, to 14 million. The lower price has also cut deeply into its profit margins, and the company is on track for a massive loss in the current fiscal year through March.

Nintendo said the 3DS reached the five-million mark much faster than its predecessors. The smash-hit DS took 56 weeks to sell five million units, while the earlier Game Boy Advance needed 58.

In Japan, the 3DS competes with Sony's Vita handheld, which is due to launch this week in North America and Europe.

The company is also gearing up for the launch of its next-generation Wii U home console this year, which it has said will be out in time for the holiday season in the U.S., Europe and Japan. The successor to the popular Wii console will feature controllers that are similar to portable consoles themselves, with touchscreens, motion detection and cameras.

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