When preteen customers visit The Save Point video game store, they gawk at older consoles for sale behind the counter.

"They'll say, 'is that a [Nintendo] GameCube up there? That's ancient,' " employee Jordan Stahley said.

The GameCube debuted just 12 years ago. In video game years, that's an eternity.

In November, Nintendo released the Wii U console complete with high-definition graphics and a new touchscreen controller.

The offering is expected to be the first in a new generation of video game systems. Sony and Microsoft are expected to unveil new consoles later this year.

"I think that developers and consumers are ready for new experiences," Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime told the Associated Press in November. "More than anything else, I think that's what is driving excitement for Wii U. They've experienced what this generation has to offer.

"They're ready for something new."

Such is life in the always-changing video game industry.

Consoles are built. Hype is generated. Units are sold for hundreds of dollars. Games are created for the system. Interest eventually wanes. New consoles are created. The older systems become irrelevant, especially once video games stop being made for them.

The process keeps repeating itself as tech companies try to gain an upper hand in an extremely competitive market.

The PlayStation3 and Xbox 360 are nearing the end of their cycles. Consoles are typically relevant for 5-7 years before new systems are introduced.

The GameCube that youths call ancient at The Save Point debuted in 2001. Five years later, Nintendo unveiled the Wii. After selling nearly 100 million units, the Wii is being replaced in favor of the Wii U.

The Save Point at the TownMall of Westminster has shelves of video games and consoles from the last three decades for sale. Most used Nintendo Entertainment System cartridges there sell for less than $5. Used Wii, Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 games are also there and retail for less than $20 in many cases.

Most video games decline in value like automobiles. Gamers have almost no chance of recouping the $40-$60 they plunk down for new games. They face a choice: Hang on to their old games and systems as they collect dust, or trade them in for far less than what they purchased them for.

New consoles exacerbate the waning demand for games made for previous generation systems.

The Wii U is being unveiled at an uneasy time for video game makers. Competition is everywhere with online gaming companies like Zynga creating games for use via social networking sites like Facebook and for smart phones.

Rovio Entertainment's "Angry Birds" has been downloaded by millions of users who didn't need a traditional gaming console to do so.

Many gamers haven't given up on the Wii yet, even though the system doesn't offer the high-definition graphics of the newest systems.

"We didn't see an influx in Wii games [being traded in] when the Wii U came out," The Game Point's Nick Jordan said. "I think people will hold onto them for awhile."

Yet the future of the Wii, the PlayStation3 and the Xbox 360 is inevitable. Eventually, they will all be pushed aside by systems with new technology offering different gaming experiences.

"It just makes you wonder," Jordan said, "what's next?"

The Associated Press contributed to this report.