A year ago, Nintendo Co. looked like the videogame industry’s biggest also- ran.The Japanese company’s new game console, slated for release in time for the year-end holidays in the U.S., was a technological laggard compared with more- powerful systems from Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp.

And the machine’s goofy name — Wii (pronounced “we”) — earned it ridicule from some game fans and critics. Nintendo’s dominance of the portable-game market, meanwhile, was under assault by a new Sony product.

But against the odds, Nintendo has become the company to beat in the games business, as the Wii flies off store shelves nearly as quickly as the company can make them. The buzz about the Wii has overshadowed the even greater success Nintendo has had with the Nintendo DS, a portable game player that is still selling briskly more than two years after its introduction.

The Kyoto-based company’s unexpected strength is prompting broader changes throughout the industry as game makers that were caught off guard by Nintendo’s strength — including powerhouses such as Electronic Arts Inc., the world’s largest publisher of games — hurry to beef up development of games that take better advantage of Nintendo hardware.

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Source: Wall Street Journal