TOKYO, Oct. 10, 2007 (Thomson Financial delivered by Newstex) — Nintendo Co Ltd, the world’s largest maker of portable game consoles, on Wednesday won an exclusive deal in which major game developer Capcom Co Ltd will supply its blockbuster Monster Hunter 3 action game title for its Wii home-use, stand-alone game machines.

The Osaka-based Capcom had previously said it was developing Monster Hunter 3 for Sony (NYSE:SNE) Computer Entertainment Inc’s PlayStation 3 game console. The company’s Monster Hunter 1 and 2 games were exclusively offered on PlayStation 2 consoles.

Capcom’s Monster Hunter series have accumulated global sales of 4.5 million copies.

‘Due to high development cost of titles for PS3, we have decided to switch the platform to which we release our Monster Hunster 3 title,’ Capcom managing corporate officer Katsuhiko Ichii said.

Nintendo has a rich title line-up for children but has few strong titles that can appeal to core game players or adults.

The announcement comes as Sony is struggling to recover its once-mighty position in the global video game market where competition has heated up since Microsoft Corp (NASDAQ:MSFT) launched the Xbox 360 in 2005 and Nintendo Co introduced its Wii last November.

Sony said Tuesday it will cut the price of its new generation video game console sold in Japan to prop up sluggish sales of high-end game machines ahead of the approaching Christmas season.

Sony will cut the price of the most powerful version of the Playstation 3 (PS3) with a 60-gigabyte hard disk drive to 54,980 yen from around 59,800 yen offered by retailers on Oct 17.

In unveiling the exclusive deal with the influential game developer, Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said that the company is now ‘entering the third phase of its strategy, aimed at expanding the game player population.’
‘With the release of the Nintendo DS portable game console and Wii stand-alone game machine, we managed to lure those who have never played games or those who have stopped playing games to play them,’ Iwata said.

‘I understand that some experts argue that our success is short-lived and temporary. So, we now need to make efforts to constantly expand the player base by offering services and titles that can appeal not only to those who have never played games but also to those who play them hard,’ he said.

Analysts think the deal could strike another blow to the Sony camp, which is losing support from game developers.

In late 2006, Square Enix Co Ltd, a developer of computer games, decided to release its latest DragonQuest IX game exclusively for use in Nintendo Co Ltd’s Nintendo DS portable game console.

Square Enix hadn’t published a main version of DragonQuest for use on a Nintendo game platform since 1995.

‘Wii has so far been successful, but it lacks a strong player base among teenagers, while Monster Hunter is highly popular in this age group,’ said Hirokazu Hamamura, president of Enterbrain, the publisher of influential entertainment magazines.

‘So, the transfer of the platform is a positive surprise for Nintendo and negative news for Sony,’ he said.

Hamamura also said the decision by Capcom, which has a reputation for creating high-grade graphics, may also help encourage more third-party game developers to enter the Wii business, because it was thought that Wii would not be able to cope with such titles as Monster Hunter that requires strong graphical chip power.

Meanwhile, Nintendo also announced a plan to ally with NTT East and NTT West, the regional fixed phone service unit of Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. (NYSE:NTT) The partners will offer a one-stop service for Internet-ready Wii, covering select Internet service providers and setting up an Internet connection.

Nintendo offers the so-called ‘Virtual Console’ service which allows Wii users to download legacy games and play on Wii.

To enrich its Internet-ready features, Nintendo said it will also introduce a new service called Wiiware, which allows game developer to sell not only legacy games but also newly-developed games directly via the Internet.

‘With the launch of this new service, game developers can set prices on new games more flexibly and cut the risk of holding inventories,’ Nintendo’s Iwata said.

(1 US dollar=117.27 yen)