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Ink-Spewing Squids Won't Save Nintendo's Wii

Attendees play Nintendo's Splatoon game during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on June 10
Attendees play Nintendo's Splatoon game during the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles on June 10Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

Nintendo yesterday unveiled its latest plan to get back into the game-console market. In Tokyo, as investors weighed in on the Japanese company’s attempt to keep up with Sony and Microsoft, the response wasn’t the enthusiastic one Nintendo President Satoru Iwata wanted. Nintendo shares dropped 2.6 percent in early trading, the most in more than a month. They closed the day down 1.7 percent, compared with a half-percent rise for the benchmark Nikkei index.

Why the underwhelming reaction? Nintendo’s announcement at the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles didn’t really tackle the basic problem the gaming-console pioneer faces: Nintendo’s customers are giving up on the Wii. Unlike the PlayStation and the Xbox, Nintendo’s Wii has long catered to younger users who like the company’s cartoon characters, most notably Mario. As the cost of smartphones and tablets continues to fall, however, parents are less willing to fork over several hundred dollars for a Nintendo Wii when they can instead let Junior play a few online games, often for free, on a cheap Android device.