Nintendo Unveils New Wii U Gamepad Before E3 Trade Show

Nintendo Co., the world’s largest maker of video-game players, unveiled a Wii U gamepad that adds features such as messaging between players and downloads of titles to its gaming console.

The Wii U’s centerpiece is a touch-screen controller, which can serve as a second screen for Wii games or as an independent screen for video calls or Internet browsing, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said during a presentation on the company’s website today. The Wii U will be compatible with earlier Wii games and hardware, Iwata said, without disclosing when the Kyoto-based company would start selling the gamepad.

Nintendo may sell 7 million Wii U units this fiscal year, Hideki Yasuda, an analyst at Ace Securities Co. in Tokyo, estimated in April.

The Wii U will be usable as a car-navigation device and as an e-book reader, and also offer 10,000 karaoke songs, the Nikkei newspaper reported without attribution. The console is planned for release at year-end and is expected to cost about 30,000 yen ($380), the newspaper said.

Nintendo also will introduce a version of its 3DS handheld gaming device with a 50 percent larger screen, Nikkei reported. That model, with a 4.3-inch screen, will be sold in Japan, the U.S. and Europe as early as the summer season, the newspaper said.

The creator of “Super Mario Bros.” games is predicting a return to profit in the year ending March 31 after a surging yen and a consumer preference for playing games on Apple Inc.’s iPhone and iPad led to the first annual loss in at least three decades last fiscal year.

E3, a trade show for computer and video games, runs June 5-7 at the Los Angeles Convention Center.

Nintendo was unchanged at 9,020 yen at the close of trading on the Osaka stock exchange. The shares have declined 15 percent this year compared with a 1.9 percent drop in the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average.

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