Nintendo to beef up piracy measures in 3-D machine, otherwise mum on details

By Yuri Kageyama, AP
Friday, May 7, 2010

Nintendo to beef up piracy measures in 3-D machine

TOKYO — Nintendo’s president said Friday that anti-piracy measures will be beefed up in its planned handheld game device with 3-D technology in a move to guard against software theft.

Nintendo Co. President Satoru Iwata was otherwise tightlipped about the machine, which the Japanese game-maker said in March will be shown at the E3 trade show in Los Angeles next month.

It’s set to go on sale sometime in the fiscal year through March 2011, according to the Kyoto-based maker of Super Mario and Pokemon games.

The problem of piracy is serious, especially in Asia and Europe, and contributed to the recent drop in game software sales in Europe, Iwata said at a Tokyo hotel.

But he declined to go into details on the planned measures, saying such comments will merely give “hints” to the culprits. Iwata was also concerned people were becoming more tolerant of piracy.

“We fear a kind of thinking is become widespread that paying for software is meaningless,” he said. “We have a strong sense of crisis about this problem.”

Nintendo is banking on a new DS-type handheld with 3-D capabilities that doesn’t require special glasses to spur new growth in the gaming industry. But analysts are withholding judgment because no one has yet seen the machine.

Iwata acknowledged people were already worried about the possible health effects of 3-D gaming, such as on children’s eyesight.

He promised it will be easy to turn off the 3-D function on the new machine, allowing people to play games, with or without 3-D.

Nintendo’s earnings dropped for the fiscal year ended March 31, battered by a price cut for the Wii home console and sliding global sales despite some signs of recovery in year-end sales, sending Nintendo stock tumbling on the Tokyo Stock Exchange. Nintendo shares closed Friday down 9 percent at 27,800 yen ($302).

It is forecasting sales to fall 2.4 percent and profit to slide 12.5 percent for the fiscal year through March 2011.

The company expects to sell 18 million Wii machines during the year following sales of 20 million for the previous year.

Iwata noted Japanese media reports on Wii sales’ losing momentum following the earnings report Thursday. But he stressed that 20 million and 18 million were both good numbers and a “high hurdle” as a sales record to beat.

“I’m not pessimistic, and this is not a pessimistic forecast,” he said.

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