Cover image via Go Nintendo

Japan’s Nintendo Co Ltd launched Nintendo Switch, its next-generation gaming console, as the company looks to catch up with rivals Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp.

Nintendo Switch, the company’s first console since Wii U in 2012, is a hybrid device, doubling up as a traditional console as well as a handheld device.

The Kyoto-based games company, which plans to launch the console globally in March, did not reveal pricing details yesterday.

The console’s success will be crucial to Nintendo as the firm still places console gaming at the centre of its business, even as casual gaming shifts from living rooms to smartphones.

Sales of Nintendo’s Wii U console have reached 13 million units since its launch. Its predecessor, the Wii, launched in 2006, has sold 101 million units to date.

The disappointing sales added impetus to shareholders and observers urging Nintendo to embrace smartphone gaming. Nintendo finally announced its entry into mobile last year and earlier this year decided to bring some of its popular characters to mobile. That led to the runaway success of its game Pokemon Go.

The company plans to debut its game franchise Super Mario Bros on Apple Inc’s iPhone in December.

Analysts have said Nintendo’s family-oriented game titles compete with smartphone games more directly than titles from rival console makers Sony and Microsoft, which focus on high-end graphics targeting core gamers.

Nintendo had said earlier it would release a short video about the announcement.

The company’s shares closed up 3.34 per cent in Tokyo yesterday.

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