CHIBA, Japan Nintendo hopes to give its popular Wii game console another boost by offering support services that make it easier to connect the machine to the Internet in Japan, the company's president said Wednesday.
A network connection not only allows people to download games but also play with others online, as well as see other content and information from the Net.
Nintendo will work with Japan's top telecommunications company, Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp., to provide network connection services in people's homes and technical support by phone, President Satoru Iwata said. More details will be disclosed later.
Nintendo Co., the Kyoto-based manufacturer of Pokemon and Super Mario games, has scored a hit with its $250 Wii, which comes with a wandlike remote controller for mimicking the motions of fishing, golfing and other activities.
Wii and Nintendo's DS handheld machine have succeeded in drawing newcomers, including women and the elderly, to games. But more work is needed so that effort doesn't run out of steam, Iwata told reporters at a hall in this Tokyo suburb.
"People tend to get bored, and the skeptics are asking whether it's just a one-time deal," he said. "We must think of the next step."
Competition also is heating up with rivals Sony Corp. and Microsoft Corp. ahead of the key Christmas shopping season. Both companies in recent months have announced price cuts for their consoles.
Iwata said only about 40 percent of Wii owners in Japan have the console connected to the Net. And more games will be available as downloads from the Internet, he said.
During a media event Wednesday, Nintendo designer Shigeru Miyamoto appeared on stage to demonstrate the "Wii Fit," a game planned for December, which allows players to weigh themselves, check their balance and play fitness games.
Nintendo has chosen a different strategy from Sony and Microsoft, with their more expensive machines, and has been trying to woo novices with brain teasers, sport games and virtual pets, instead of the usual shooters and role-playing games.
Since Wii went on sale late last year, Nintendo has shipped 9.3 million units around the world, with supplies barely keeping up with demand. By the end of this fiscal year in March 2008, Wii global shipments are expected to have reached 22.3 million.
So far, Sony's 5 million PlayStation 3s, which went on sale late last year in Japan and the U.S. and in March in Europe. Microsoft has sold 11.6 million Xbox 360 machines in the last two years.