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Confirmed! Wii successor coming in 2012

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Nintendo Wii - Nintendo

It's official. Nintendo will have a new home console in stores next year.

The company confirmed the rumors Monday morning, saying it would have a playable version on display at this year's E3 trade show in June. That's also when the company plans to announce details on what will make the unnamed system notably different from its predecessor and competing systems.

The announcement (PDF) was made in a terse three-paragraph statement (beginning with a stiff "To whom it may concern") in conjunction with the company's annual earnings -- and those financial numbers underscore why Nintendo is ready to move on from the Wii. Net profits fell 66 percent from a year ago, the lowest operating profit Nintendo has posted in five years.

Not surprisingly, the company didn't offer any other details about the new system, hoping to save the shock and awe for June.

"As for the details of exactly what it will be, we have decided that it is best to let people experience it for themselves at E3," said Satoru Iwata, Nintendo's president and CEO, in a conference call. "So I won't talk about specific details today, but it will offer a new way of playing games within the home."

Nintendo also revealed more info about sales for their recently released 3DS handheld, which had a smooth start -- but hardly a stellar one, falling short of the company's projections. The system sold more than 3.61 million units, versus the 4 million Nintendo had forecast.

The confirmation of a Wii successor isn't exactly shocking. The current system lacks any sort of high definition graphics and is very weak on the multiplayer front. That helped Nintendo to keep it affordable when it was launched, but with motion controllers from Microsoft and Sony stealing the spotlight over the past year, it's a bit long in the tooth.

The new system is already being shown to third party publishers, who have started working on launch titles for it.

It's name? That's very much up in the air, but whatever the system is ultimately called, it's going to have some big shoes to fill. While the Wii might be a bit passé now, it sold more than 86 million units over the course of the last five years. And that number's likely to jump even higher if Nintendo cuts prices, as expected, in the coming months.

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