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Fri, Dec 10, 2004 - Page 12 News List

Nintendo says Sony's product poses no threat

VIDEO GAMES Amid the launch of Sony's portable PlayStation, Nintendo said it is pursuing a different strategy than its rival, targeting novice players

AP , TOKYO

The president of Japanese game maker Nintendo Co shrugged off the threat from rival Sony's entry into the handheld video game business yesterday, saying his company is targeting a different market of novice players.

Japanese electronics and entertainment giant Sony Corp's PlayStation Portable, or PSP, goes on sale Sunday in Japan. It won't go on sale in overseas markets until next year.

Nintendo DS, the new portable device from the makers of Super Mario and Pokemon games, has been a hit, selling more than 1 million machines in Japan and the US. It went on sale on Nov. 21 in the US, Dec. 2 in Japan and is planned for Europe in March next year.

Nintendo DS is based on the Kyoto-based maker's recognition that people are drifting from games because they don't have time to master the increasingly complex games on the market, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata told reporters.

Iwata said he doubts that PSP, which marks Sony's foray into handheld gaming, will attract new fans the way Nintendo DS has, wooing beginners, including young women who studies have shown usually dislike games.

The old-style formula for success of relying on technological innovations to deliver dazzling graphics simply doesn't work, Iwata said. Nintendo DS, which stands for "dual screen," has a wireless function and a touch-panel.

"PSP has been created with the assumption that the golden success formula is still working. We don't believe that," Iwata said at the Foreign Correspondents' Club. "We're making every effort so that people will say we were right."

Nintendo Co Ltd hopes to raise the manufacturing capacity for Nintendo DS to 1.5 million a month by April next year, and to 2 million a month in peak periods ahead of Christmas, Iwata said.

Nintendo officials declined to give its current manufacturing capacity.

Nintendo is targeting 5 million shipments of Nintendo DS by the end of March next year. It's ready to ship 2.8 million Nintendo DS machines by the end of the year, an addition of 800,000 from the initial plan.

Among the games Nintendo has in the works is a virtual puppy that users can pet by scratching the surface of the touch panel display, making the dog roll over in joy.

Nintendo's star game designer, Shigeru Miyamoto, acknowledged that's an atypical video game but noted it's still solid entertainment.

"We're focusing on our market, ages 5 to 95," he said.

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