TOKYO / AP
Nintendo Co. President Tatsumi Kimishima said the company is committed to delivering more content for smartphones, noting that the success of â€œPokemon Go,â€ a smartphone augmented-reality game, boosted sales of other Pokemon games and of 3DS machines.
That helped Kyoto-based Nintendo, which creates Super Mario games, report a better-than-expected October-December profit of 64.7 billion yen ($569 million), more than twice its same-period profit in the previous year.
Investors were unimpressed, sending Nintendo stock sinking 2 percent in Tokyo trading. The stock had already slipped when the price for the Switch was announced earlier this month. The Japanese video game maker also kept unchanged its original target of selling 2 million Switch consoles in the first month after its launch, despite speculation it might aim higher because of brisk pre-orders.
The Switch, the first major hybrid console-and-hand-held game device, goes on sale March 3. It costs $299.99, more expensive than many had hoped. But Kimishima said the company did not want to go into the red. Game makers often keep prices low, even taking a loss on each machine sold, in hopes of boosting sales and making up for the loss later with game software sales.
Also, Nintendo said production of the Wii U home console had ended for all markets. The company had said earlier it planned to end Wii U production but had not given a date. Nintendo said that to sustain profitability it will deliver a steady rollout of various games, including games for cellphones, at two to three a year.
Kimishima said interest was growing for Pokemon among young children, including those who had never played the game before but were now playing with parents who grew up with Pokemon. Making Nintendo games available on smart devices was also wooing younger players, he said.
â€œWhether we can get them to buy the second or third game software is our challenge,â€ Kimishima said. Nintendo resisted switching to games on cellphones for years, fearing that could erode sales of its own consoles. But it made its big push into mobile with â€œSuper Mario Runâ€ for the iPhone, which launched late last year. It now has recorded 78 million downloads, according to the company.
Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said he had not anticipated such a strong reception
for â€œPokemon Goâ€ because responses were lukewarm when he showed it at events ahead of its launch. Once it went online, â€œthe reaction was huge,â€ he said. â€œThis is so unpredictable,â€ Miyamoto added. â€œSmartphones are an important part of our business.â€
The video game maker Nintendo Co.’s third-quarter profit more than doubled from a year earlier on healthy sales of Pokemon game software, the company said.
Kyoto-based Nintendo raised its full year profit forecast to 90 billion yen ($792 million) from an earlier 50 billion yen ($440 million). That would mark a more than five-fold increase from what it earned the previous fiscal year.
It kept its sales forecast unchanged at 470 billion yen ($4.1 billion). Nintendo’s quarterly sales slipped 21 percent to 174.3 billion yen ($1.5 billion).
Nintendo’s bottom line also was helped by a relatively weak yen, which lifts the overseas revenue for Japanese companies like Nintendo that do much of their business abroad. Nintendo has a lot riding on the Switch, the new game system that combines a portable hand-held device with a dock to use at home, and comes with detachable controllers. Although new machines tend to sell briskly at first, it’s difficult to maintain sales momentum.
Nintendo’s previous devices struggled against competition from smartphones and other mobile devices, which also offer entertainment. The company said in a statement the success of the “Pokemon Go” augmented-reality game for smartphones last year led to bigger Pokemon game sales for Nintendo’s own portable 3DS machine in recent months.
After resisting switching to games on cellphones for years, fearing that could erode sales of its own consoles, Nintendo made its big push into mobile with “Super Mario Run” for the iPhone, which launched late last year. At first, it was a big hit
but the interest has quickly fizzled out. Nintendo said an Android
version of the game will become available in March.