Successful GBA Micro Launch In Japan

Nintendo’s new mobile phone-sized game console, Game Boy Micro, attracted better-than-expected orders on its debut on Tuesday, though less than Game Boy Advance SP had done, retailers said. What they boast as the world’s smallest console in Japan launched in Japan this week with a price tag of 12,000 yen. Nintendo dominates the portable game industry with a market share of about 94 percent, and aims to strengthen its grip with the Micro as it goes up against Sony Corp.’s PlayStation Portable.

Despite (the Micro’s) functions being the same as the existing models, it is popular,” said Hirokazu Hamamura, president of Enterbrain, which publishes leading game magazine Famitsu. “Consumers lately have tended to buy particular hardware because it is stylish or fashionable,” he continued, adding the popularity of the Micro reflects that trend. Local retailers, including Japan’s biggest discount home electronics retailer, Yamada Denki Co., said the Micro was enjoying solid orders.”The orders have been going well,” said a Yamada Denki spokesman. “Especially, the Famicon colour version is really popular.”

The Micro is available in Japan in silver, purple, black and blue, with a fifth “limited edition” design in the colour of the once-popular Famicon game console aimed at attracting adults who played with the Famicon as children in the 1980s. An electronics store clerk in Tokyo said it received advance orders for 70 percent of its Micro stock, mostly for the limited edition. Orders were brisk but less than when the Game Boy Advance SP made its debut in 2003, the clerk said. The store sold all of the SP consoles through advance orders at the launch.

Nintendo aims to sell 4 million units of the Micro worldwide by the end of its business year to next March. “The company aims to expand the gaming population, and with the Micro it wants to attract adult players, especially those who used to play games but stopped because they got busy or for other reasons,” said analyst Yuta Sakurai at Nomura Securities.Some analysts have said the price, which is over 2,000 yen more than the Game Boy Advance SP in Japan, is too high, but Sakurai said it was appropriate considering the target customers and its features.

The Micro, whose screen has adjustable brightness levels, will play the same games as the current Game Boy Advance SP. It weighs just 80 grams (2.822 ounces), although it is heavier than Apple Computer Inc.’s new iPod nano digital music player, which weighs 1.5 ounces. Nintendo plans to release the Micro in Europe on November 4 in silver, pink, green and blue, at a recommended price of 99 euros, while U.S. versions, due on September 19 for $99, will be available in black and silver with three removable faceplates.