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Nintendo won't launch Wii U successor until it has "satisfied" current owners

But already has "clear idea" what direction new hardware will take.

Nintendo has poured cold water on the suggestion it will rush out a successor to its struggling Wii U, instead suggesting that it will wait to "satisfy" those who have adopted the console first.

But work on the Wii U's successor has started - as it does every generation when the previous console is released. And, speaking in an investor Q&A, Nintendo boss Satoru Iwata has hinted that the company already has a clear idea what it will be like.

This year, Wii U owners get Mario Kart 8, Smash Bros. and whatever Nintendo announces at E3...

"Once we launch a new platform, we naturally start to prepare for the next one. As it takes several years to develop a single platform, if you ask us whether we are preparing for our next system, then the correct response will be that we are always developing new hardware," Iwata explained.

"I of course believe that launching new hardware will not produce good results unless we first make sure that those who have already purchased our platforms are satisfied.

"We will continue to work hard to ensure that consumers who already own our platforms are satisfied, and make sure that people will continue to see great value in our software, but I would like to say that we are preparing for our next hardware system, and in fact, we already have a clear idea to some extent about the direction our next hardware is going to take."

The Wii U launched in November 2012 and has currently sold 6.1m consoles. While it is unlikely Nintendo would be able to launch a fresh console within the next 12 months, it seems those that have supported the console so far will continue to see support for the foreseeable future.

Indeed, Iwata added that Nintendo does not expect this year's modest sales estimate of another 3.6m consoles to be the Wii U's last hurrah.

"We do not believe that this year's estimate of 3.6m units of Wii U hardware will be the peak of its lifecycle, and we would like to work hard to make sure that we give sufficient momentum to the system so that we can expect good results in and after the next fiscal year, too," he added.

That said, Nintendo is expanding its focus into its previously-announced "quality of life" entertainment business, with products to be launched next year and sales to become profitable by the year after.

This, Nintendo's recently-announced figurine business, and the continuing sales of 3DS and Wii U will - Nintendo hopes - then restore the company to its regular levels of profit.

"In the next fiscal year we will be able to be more specific about the kinds of mid-term projects that we discussed at the Corporate Management Policy Briefing in January, and in fact, we will even start to offer some of them to the public," Iwata concluded. "In the following fiscal year, I expect some of these measures to start serving as a source of profits for the company. In this sense, instead of seeing a great and sudden recovery in our profitability in the next fiscal year, I am rather expecting to be able to report Nintendo-like profits from around the following fiscal year."

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