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Reports: Nintendo to unveil new HD game console

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The Original Wii Prototype

The Wii has never been the workhorse console of this generation.

To keep it affordable and attractive to a mass market audience, Nintendo eschewed high definition graphics and, for the most part,
online play when it was introduced. Five years later, though, it's showing its age. And if online reports are to be believed, the company is ready to pull the curtain back on its next console system.

While several outlets have speculated about a new console from Nintendo, Game Informer (which is owned by retail king GameStop) reported Thursday that multiple sources have confirmed Nintendo plans to announce its Wii successor at the E3 game convention in June, if not before.

The system, which may not carry the Wii name at all, is said to support HD graphics and is already being shown to third-party publishing partners. Other details are still unknown -- including the graphical power (some reports say it will surpass the Xbox 360 and PS3, while others downplay that) and the control scheme.

Nintendo, as you might guess, isn't commenting on the chatter.

While everything is just rumor at this point, the circumstantial evidence for a system refresh is starting to build. Nintendo hasn't released -- or even announced -- any notable new Wii game since last year's Donkey Kong Country Returns. The calendar
for the second quarter
was thin as well, with only a sequel to Wii Play
turning heads. Whispers of a price cut in May suddenly make more sense, too -- and even Wall Street analysts are starting to give them some credence.

In the meantime, the guessing game is well underway in gaming forums. Will this simply be Wii HD -- a stopgap update of the industry's top selling system that's meant to keep it relevant until Sony and Microsoft roll out their next generation machines? Or would Nintendo actually venture deeper into its 'Blue Ocean' strategy (an attempt to create a market where there initially was none) and start its own launch cycle, one that removes it from the same launch window as its two console competitors?

In any event, we should know more in the next two months.

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