SAN FRANCISCO - Nintendo Co Ltd plans to offer a new handheld gaming device and a US$50 (S$64.14) discount on its most expensive Wii U console in North America and Europe, to compete with rivals Microsoft Corp and Sony Corp as they prepare to release new hardware.
Nintendo said on Wednesday it will start selling the product, called 2DS, on Oct 12, priced at US$129.99, which is US$40 and US$70 less than its two 3DS devices. The new gaming device is a lower-resolution version of the popular 3DS and will play DS games and 3DS games in 2D graphics.
The new product, which will come in red and blue and will have two screens and a camera, is about as big as a 3DS laid out flat, but without the foldable clamshell design of the 3DS.
Known for games with characters like Mario and Zelda, Nintendo has faced stiff competition from inexpensive or free mobile games on tablets and smartphones. Games on iOS and Android devices are eating into the market share of consoles and handheld devices.
With the 2DS, Nintendo hopes to attract new players who have not been able to afford costlier versions of its 3DS, priced at US$169.99 and US$199.99, Mr Reggie Fils-Aime, president of Nintendo of America said in an interview earlier this week.
Some industry analysts have criticised Nintendo for limiting its games for use on its own systems and not taking advantage of the rapid growth of games on iOS and Android mobile devices.
Nintendo executives have said letting popular game characters like Mario roam on mobile devices would impair the company's hardware business in the long term.
By introducing the 2DS, Nintendo is going after "not just consumers who have necessarily a phone or tablet" and want a taste of Nintendo's game fare, "but all consumers, especially younger consumers," Mr Fils-Aime said.
The 2DS release will coincide with the launch of kid-friendly role-playing game Pokemon X and Y. "When you look at software sales, the 3DS isn't competing with the Android or iOS platform in terms of pure games sales,"said Mr Peer Schneider, publisher of videogame website IGN.com.
Mr Schneider said he was surprised at Nintendo's decision to introduce another product in the DS line because the 3DS hardware and first-party titles on that handheld are selling well.