(Adds executive quote, details about game releases)
LOS ANGELES, July 15 (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd 7974.OS said on Tuesday it plans to launch a music game for its hit Wii game console this year, taking it into the fast-growing software segment pioneered by "Guitar Hero."
Wii sales have topped those of more technically souped up and expensive rival consoles from Microsoft Corp MSFT.O and Sony Corp 6758.T with its motion controller that can be swung like a bat or a sword, broadening its audience well beyond hard-core video gamers.
"Wii Music" will let players simulate more than 60 different instruments. Activision's ATVID.O "Guitar Hero" turned the music-playing genre into arguably the hottest category for video games.
“Guitar Hero” already plays on all three game consoles, including the Wii, helping to build the industry’s appeal among players beyond core fighting and race-style titles.
“A true paradigm shift has taken place in the global games market,” Nintendo President Satoru Iwata told the E3 video game conference, the most important industry event.
A more sensitive Wii MotionPlus controller add-on also will debut next spring with a new suite of Wii sports games from the company.
Nintendo widened the uses for the console with its Wii Fit balance board and on Tuesday said it plans to begin selling this year “Wii Speak,” a group microphone that works with its Wii game console and can be used for online games.
The company also said it also plans to release a much-hyped game called “Animal Crossing: City Folk” for the Wii this year before the start of the holiday shopping season. The game lets players serve as caretakers of a virtual world that continues to function even when the game isn’t being played.
This is the first time that the “Animal Crossing” franchise will be available for the Wii. It was already a hit on Nintendo’s past game platform, the GameCube, and the hand-held Nintendo DS.
Nintendo said the DS will also get a version of Take Two’s “Grand Theft Auto” this winter -- “Grand Theft Auto: Chinatown Wars.” The company expects to have sold about 100 million DS units by the end of its fiscal year next march. It had sold about 70 million in the fiscal year through March 2008. (Reporting by Kemp Powers and Kiyoshi Takenaka; editing by Maureen Bavdek, Gary Hill)
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