TOKYO (Reuters) - Video game maker Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS and telecoms operator NTT’s (9432.T) regional units said they would cooperate in Japan to promote the broadband Internet access of Nintendo’s hot-selling Wii game console.
Driving Wii’s Web connection is important for Nintendo since the creator of game characters Mario and Zelda plans to launch a new service next March called WiiWare, which allows users of the Wii to purchase new game software titles via the Internet.
For Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp, which aims to boost subscribers to its fiber-optic Web connection service as a new long-term source of growth, a growing user base for the Wii represents an attractive pool of potential customers.
Nintendo and NTT’s two regional units, NTT East and NTT West, will start operating call centers jointly on Thursday to provide consultation and support for Wii’s Internet connection.
They will also offer a cut-rate start-up package, which provides equipment for Web access, on-site set-up and other services for Wii users.
Since its launch late last year, Nintendo’s Wii, which features a motion-sensing controller that allows users to direct on-screen play by swinging it like a racket or sword, sold 13.2 million units worldwide as of the end of September.
“I hope our fiber-optic service becomes as popular as the Wii,” NTT East Senior Executive Vice President Tetsuo Koga told a news conference on Wednesday.
“I think we have won a powerful ally to hit our target to boost fiber-optic subscribers to 20 million by the year ending March 2011.”
The two regional units held a total 6.1 million fiber-optic subscribers in March 2007.
Nintendo’s Wii is locked in a three-way battle with Microsoft Corp’s (MSFT.O) Xbox 360 and Sony Corp’s (6758.T) PlayStation 3 for dominance in the console market. In handheld video games, Nintendo’s DS competes with Sony’s PlayStation Portable.
Japanese game magazine publisher Interbrain said on Wednesday domestic sales of the DS to end-users had exceeded 20 million units three years from launch, while it took Sony’s PlayStation 2 more than six years.
The DS and PS2 are the only game machines that have sold more than 20 million units in Japan in recent years.
Shares in Nintendo, Japan's third most valuable company behind Toyota Motor Corp (7203.T) and Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (8306.T), closed up 0.2 percent at 62,200 yen, outperforming the Nikkei average's .N225 0.45 percent fall.
NTT fell 1.4 percent to 479,000 yen.
Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka, editing by Will Waterman