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Wii to offer new game downloads

Nintendo is to make new titles available for download before they hit the shops, the company has announced in a press conference in Tokyo.

Nintendo has announced some of the software titles that will be available for download via the Wii Software/WiiWare system from March next year.

In a press conference in Tokyo, as reported by Bloomberg and IGN, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata stated that prices will be lower for downloaded games than those purchased in shops because there will be no problems with stock, and therefore no missed sales.

Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles from Square Enix will be one of the first titles released, and will be exclusive to the download service. It will be joined by Pokemon Bukojou - translated as "Pokemon Farm" - Star Soldier R, Mojipittan Wii and Doctor Mario.

It was also that at the press conference that Nintendo intends to spend more time helping households to set up internet connections so that they can make use of the new online services.

Additionally the company announced that Virtual Console downloads had now passed the 7.8 million mark, and that it would re-focus the Wii Vote aspect of its operating system in order to better enable users to send feedback and rate the games they were playing.

Iwata also hinted that Nintendo was looking to third party publishers to play a bigger role in the development of its platforms.

"In Japan, Nintendo has 50% of the DS software market this year. From here on out, the share should shift to other software makers."

Finally, some specific game-related announcements were made. Wii Fit will be released in Japan on December 1, priced JPY 8800 (EUR 53, USD 75) while Mario Kart Wii will ship with a steering wheel controller, will feature motorbikes and will be available in Spring 2008.

All of the announcements made were aimed at the Japanese market, and further details on rolling out services or titles to other markets are as yet unavailable.

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Phil Elliott

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