Nintendo Wii U buyers warned about damage during software updates

Nintendo Co. warned buyers of its new Wii U not to turn off the console while downloading a mandatory firmware update after some customers complained their devices were damaged during the process.

"It may take an hour or more to perform the system update," the company said in an e-mail Tuesday. "Powering off the console during the update may damage your system." The warning and the update comes as the Kyoto, Japan-based company, in order to get the machine into U.S. stores for the holiday shopping season, didn't include a new TV-viewing service in its first new console since 2006. Pressure is mounting on President Satoru Iwata to repeat the success of the Wii console after the 3DS handheld player failed to meet sales expectations in overseas markets, prompting Nintendo to cut its profit goal 70 percent last month.

Kristie Tomkins, an outside spokeswoman for Nintendo with the firm Golin Harris, said customers can troubleshoot their Wii U by checking http://support.nintendo.com or calling 800-255- 3700. Yasuhiro Minagawa, a Kyoto-based spokesman for Nintendo, referred questions to his U.S. counterparts.

Nintendo fell 0.9 percent to 10,200 yen as of 11 a.m. in Osaka trading, widening its year-to-date decline to 3.8 percent.

The company introduced the Wii U in the U.S. weeks before Europe and Japan to take advantage of the holiday shopping season that starts Friday, said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo's North America president. The console is selling well, and Nintendo will have enough supply for the "Black Friday" kickoff to the shopping season.

Nintendo also said Amazon.com's Instant Video and Hulu LLC's download services would be available later. Features such as the company's Miiverse social network, Wii U Chat and eShop are part of the software update, according to the e-mail.

MIXED REVIEWS

The high-definition console, offered in two versions costing about $300 and $350 with a 6.2-inch touch screen controller called the GamePad, is mostly sold out, Fils-Aime said. The company plans to restock store shelves before Friday, he said in an interview on CNBC.

IHS Screen Digest expects Nintendo to sell 3.5 million Wii U consoles in the U.S. this year. The industry has been counting on a new console upgrade cycle to revive lackluster retail video-game sales.

The length of time it takes for the Wii U's firmware to download has been noted in reviews on websites including Wired.com and CNET.com.

Wired cautioned that users must spend "a good part of Christmas morning and some of Christmas afternoon updating the operating system first." CNET said "some OS loading times are too long." In its review, Engadget reserved judgment on the product until it spends more time with the post-update features.

Iwata, 52, told analysts and investors Oct. 25 the Wii U may be in short supply this year because production only began "this summer," according to Nintendo's website. The machine goes on sale in Europe and Australia on Nov. 30 and in Japan Dec. 8.

Nintendo and rival console makers Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. all face increased competition in the gaming market as consumers turn to smartphones and tablets such as Apple Inc.'s iPad to play free games like "Hill Climb Racing."

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