Nintendo to Halt Wii Production for Japan to Focus on U Console

Nintendo Co. (7974) will soon halt production of the Wii gaming console for Japan, the only major market where its new machine outsells the 7-year-old device.

There are no plans to end output for foreign markets, Yasuhiro Minagawa, a spokesman for the Kyoto, Japan-based company, said by phone today. He didn’t provide specifics on when domestic production would stop.

Nintendo unveiled the Wii U last year adding a touch-screen controller to the motion-capture console it introduced in 2006 in a bet it could lure players away from smartphones and tablet computers. While the company posted Japanese Wii U sales of 90,000 in the June quarter, more than 4 times the domestic shipments of the Wii, Nintendo sold 31 percent more of the earlier console in global markets than the new device in the same period.

“Japanese consumers tend to switch to new hardware and now the Wii doesn’t sell well in Japan,” said Eiji Maeda, an analyst at SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. in Tokyo. “In America and Europe, there are people who buy old hardware if it’s cheap and it would be a waste to stop production for them and throw that market away.”

Nintendo, creator of the Mario and Zelda franchises, has sold more than 100 million Wii units since its 2006 release. The company’s consoles are made by companies in China, Minagawa said without identifying producers.

Photographer: Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg

A Nintendo Co. employee holds a Wii video game controller at the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne. Close

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Photographer: Ralph Orlowski/Bloomberg

A Nintendo Co. employee holds a Wii video game controller at the Gamescom video games trade fair in Cologne.

The decision to end Wii production for Japan comes about a month before Sony Corp. (6758) and Microsoft Corp. are due to release the new generation consoles.

To contact the reporter on this story: Takashi Amano in Tokyo at tamano6@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Tighe at mtighe4@bloomberg.net

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