NEW YORK -- Nintendo is dropping the price of its Wii game system by $50 to $150 and cutting the price of several popular games ahead of next year's launch of the successor to the console.
Starting May 15, the newly priced Wii system will come in either black or white with a "Mario Kart Wii" game and a Wii Wheel accessory, replacing the previously included "Wii Sports" and "Wii Sports Resort" games.
The price cut -- the second one since the Wii launched for $250 in 2006 -- comes less than a month after the Japanese company announced the console will have a successor next year. Nintendo Co. said in late April it will show off a playable model of the new system at the Electronic Entertainment Expo, which runs June 7- 9 in Los Angeles.
The company said Wednesday that the "Nintendo Selects" collection of games will come with a suggested retail price of $20. The four games are "The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess," "Animal Crossing: City Folk," "Mario Super Sluggers" and "Wii Sports." It's the first time "Wii Sports" will be sold separately rather than packaged with the Wii.
The Wii redefined gaming when it launched nearly five years ago, expanding the video game audience by offering intuitive motion controllers instead of complex buttons. But the Wii isn't as technologically powerful as its counterparts from Sony and Microsoft, the PlayStation 3 and the Xbox 360. Unlike those two, it doesn't offer high-definition images.
Nintendo has sold 86 million Wiis worldwide since the system launched, including 35 million in the U.S. As such, it has outsold both of its competitors, but with the price cut the company hopes to expand the console's audience even more widely.
"There continues to be a consumer segment we haven't reached," said Reggie Fils-Aime, the president of Nintendo of America. "Either because of the price or the product offering itself."
Switching out "Wii Sports" with "Mario Kart" should attract new fans of Nintendo's flagship game franchise, Mario. Fils-Aime said "Mario Kart" is the second most popular game for the Wii behind "Wii Play." Both games come with extra accessories -- a steering wheel and a controller, respectively -- at no extra cost.
Price cuts extend the lives of gaming systems because more people can afford them. Sony's PlayStation 2 is still sold 11 years after its release. PlayStation 2 sold nearly half of the consoles after price cuts, at $149 and below, Fils-Aime said.
Nintendo did not give details on the capabilities of its new gaming console.