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Nintendo: "Response has been strong to Wii price drop"

Company now plans to target 150 million 'fence sitters' currently without a console

The Wii price cut has given sales of the console a significant boost, Nintendo US president Reggie Fils-Aime has said, and with key holiday releases such as Super Mario Bros and Wii Fit Plus the platform holder hopes to attract even more buyers to the console.

By combining the price reduction with marketing incentives such as getting potential consumers to try out Nintendo products, Fils-Aime hopes the company will attract the "fence sitters" to the machine - that is the 50 million US consumers who say they are interesting in videogames but do not have a console. The number of people in this category is 150 million globally, he revealed.

"There are literally millions of consumers out there who want a Wii and had been on the sideline," he told the FT. "They'd been waiting for that little nudge to go out and pick it up - the price decline, the sampling, the launching of key software like Wii Fit Plus - we believe it's what's pushing them over the edge to get into the category."

While the company said it was too early to release precise sales figures, Fils-Aime said the consumer response had been very strong to the Wii price reduction.

This year, sales of the console have dropped off, with August seeing a 39 per cent year-on-year decline according to NPD figures. In the five months following April, sales were 50 per cent below last year's levels and major releases such as Wii Music and Animal Crossing performed below expectation.

However, Fils-Aime said the biggest releases had been kept back to the second half of 2009, with Wii Fit Plus, Wii Sports Resort and Super Mario Bros all being saved for the holiday season. He added that over 140 new Wii titles were being launched by third-party publishers over the next three months.

The Wii's price was reduced by USD 50 in the US at the end of September and by 20 per cent in Japan.

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Kath Brice