Third-place Nintendo showed off its next-generation game console Tuesday, taking shots at its rivals as it promised that "Wii" would be about improving the actual game experience, not just high-tech graphics.
Nintendo said Wii would be released in the fourth quarter of 2006, but did not give a specific release date. Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of sales and marketing, said pricing details for the console will be announced later.
CNBC's Jim Goldman reported that he had unofficially been told to expect a price tag of between $249 and $299 and a release date similar to Sony's PlayStation 3, which is Nov. 17 in North America.
Nintendo also showed off its unusual wireless controller, which looks a bit like a large TV remote. Players can use it in different ways depending on the game they're playing — as a golf club during a golf game, or as a bat in a baseball game, for example. Sony on Monday unveiled a controller that also uses motion-sensing technology, but to a less dramatic extent.
If the $249 report is correct, the Wii would be priced at more than half the cheapest PS3 and substantially cheaper than Microsoft's Xbox 360, which was released last fall.
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This would be in keeping with Nintendo's general console strategy, which has been to emphasize its relative low cost and family-friendly games. While the Wii will have only slightly more power than Nintendo's current GameCube system, both the Xbox 360 and the PS3 took huge leaps in power and boast high-definition graphics.
Sony is the dominant player among video game consoles, with 64 percent of the market. Microsoft has 16 percent; Nintendo 13 percent.
Fils-Aime took indirect aim at its rivals' high-tech strategy at the news conference Tuesday, a day before the official start of the video game industry's annual conference, the Electronic Entertainment Expo in Los Angeles.
"What we're unveiling is the next leap in gaming, to a place where playing is no longer just about looks, it's about the feel," Fils-Aime said. "Where it's no longer confined to just a few, it's about everyone. And most of all, the next leap is not about what you see. ... The next leap is about playing, because playing is believing."
He added that the next version of the popular “Legend of Zelda” video game would be available at the time of Wii’s launch.
Nintendo also announced Tuesday that a new version of its portable Nintendo DS Lite would be released, for a price as low as $129.99.