High console sales boost Nintendo

Japanese gaming giant Nintendo said soaring sales of its Wii console helped profits almost double in the last nine months.

The firm has enjoyed huge success with its Wii machine, which is operated by a "wand" remote control, and said it has now sold more than 20 million consoles worldwide since its launch in late 2006.

Earnings in the nine months to December 31 surged 96% to 258.9 billion yen (£1.24bn) and group sales increased 84% on a year earlier to 1.36 trillion yen (£6.3bn).

Nintendo, which also makes games such as Pokemon and Super Mario, has now raised its sales target for sales of Wii consoles for this financial year from 17.5 million units to 18.5 million.

The company has proved successful against rivals such as Sony's PlayStation 3 and Microsoft's XBox.

It has benefited by attracting sales from video game novices, including older players and an increasing number of female gamers.

New Wii games including Wii Fit, Super Mario Galaxy and Wii Sports have proved popular, it added.

Reports last month suggested that the company had pulled its Christmas UK TV advertising for Wii as it struggled to cope with massive domestic demand.

It was also thought that some UK retailers were struggling to get enough machines to supply customers.

Nintendo also upped annual sales predictions for its handheld DS consoles, which have proved a major hit with gamers, from 28 million to 29.5 million.