Nintendo CEO says no new Switch model this year

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TOKYO (Reuters) - Nintendo Co Ltd CEO Shuntaro Furukawa said on Friday the gaming company has no plans to launch a fresh Switch model this year, dampening rumors it will offer an upgraded version of the hit device.

Nintendo launched a handheld-only version of its console in September, driving demand for the Switch through the year-end shopping season.

The Kyoto-based company has long been rumored to be preparing an upgraded version of the hybrid home-portable Switch as it nears the end of its third year in the market.

The company’s shares were trading down nearly 5% in Tokyo, their lowest since early November. The benchmark index was up 1.4%.

Furukawa’s comments came a day after the company upgraded its Switch sales forecast for the year ending March to 19.5 million units from an earlier outlook of 18 million units, with the new number seen as conservative by many analysts.

Nintendo has already sold 17.7 million units in the nine months ended December, taking total Switch sales to more than 52 million units, with the launch of an Animal Crossing title in late March likely to help boost sales.

Mobile games remain a small proportion of Nintendo’s sales and are slow to come to the market with little of the aggressive in-game monetization often found in titles from rivals.

The mobile business is fulfilling the function of increasing user interaction with Nintendo’s roster of characters, Furukawa said, using language that leaves some investors concerned that this is a greater priority than increasing sales.

“We do not know how Nintendo sees this business. Does it want to continue? There is zero visibility,” wrote Jefferies analyst Atul Goyal of the mobile business in a note ahead of the briefing.

Reporting by Sam Nussey; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman and Sherry Jacob-Phillips