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Iwata predicts further growth for DS and Wii

DS installed base could hit 152.2 million due to "gaming population expansion"

Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata has told investors that be believes there is room for the DS and Wii to grow beyond its current market.

Speaking at the company's third quarter financial briefing, Iwata predicted that the DS's total installed base in Japan, Europe, and the US could reach a potential 152.2 million units alone.

Recent fears that sales of Nintendo product had peaked were presuming the hardware has a five year lifecycle, a theory that does not apply to the DS and Wii, said Iwata.

"In the case of DS, when you apply this five-year cycle theory to a platform that has been through its 5th holiday season since its 2004 launch, a concern that DS business may slow down in the next fiscal year may appear to be logical at first glance," he admitted.

The Nintendo boss explained how in Japan, where the "gaming population expansion" had taken most effect, the proportion of DS owners in the population has hit 19.76 per cent.

Iwata speculated that if the same percentage were achieved in the US sales could grow from 27.6 million units to 60.9 million, and in Europe from 31.4 million units to 66.2 million - with lifetime sales jumping from 84.1 million to 152.2 million units, exceeding the PlayStation 2's 97.5 million units.

"It can be said that the US has 2.5 times as much the potential of Japan, and Europe has even bigger, undeveloped potential," Iwata said, according to Gamasutra. "Of course, they are theoretical potentials and not the actual demands of today."

"The fact is, the current European game market potential is smaller than that of the US," he continued.

"This is because the ratio of people who enjoy videogames in Europe is still less than those in the US and in Japan. However, since the European market has grown rapidly in the last two years, and portable game market has come close to the level of the US, the situation is changing."

He added: "I don't think it is appropriate to conclude that DS is reaching its final stages on the market and that the market will be saturated in the next fiscal year."

"With new customers acquired by the gaming population expansion efforts, it is not impossible for Wii's total sales to exceed the final install base of PS2. Wii still has much more room for expansion."

A new report from the market research firm Packaged Facts found that twice as many older gamers use Nintendo systems as use PlayStation consoles.

The report also found that the majority of older videogamers were women, who only make up 46 per cent of gamers aged 18-24, but 55 percent of those 65 and older.

"Over the last few years, the driving force behind the increasing diversity and the mass appeal of gaming had been Nintendo," said Bob Brown, the report's author, according to the New York Times.

"My wife's mother lives in a retirement community, and the last time we were there, everyone was excited because they were getting a Wii in there."

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James Lee