Trouble for Nintendo as New Numbers Emerge

Steve Anderson : End Game
Steve Anderson
The Video Store Guy
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Trouble for Nintendo as New Numbers Emerge

The word came out just recently about Nintendo's sales and profit figures, and the word sounded like a disaster the second it hit. While earlier word suggested profits afoot for Nintendo in its fiscal year, the newest reports hit like a blue turtle shell in the last lap of a “Mario Kart” race, and end with losses.

Nintendo warned investors in April that the company was likely to not see earlier projections of a $539 million net profit, but rather would instead take a $240 million loss in its fiscal year. That's a drop of fully 36 percent when matched against just last year, and perhaps the biggest reason as to why is the horrifically low sales of Nintendo's newest home console, the Wii U.

Nintendo proceeded to make a bad situation even worse, describing how the company sold just 2.8 million Wii U devices for the entirety of the fiscal year, bad enough in isolation, but even worse when compared to the much shorter term numbers posted by the Sony PlayStation 4 and the Microsoft Xbox One: Sony has over seven million such devices shipped, and Microsoft is around five million. What's worse, those are the numbers just since November; for roughly half of Nintendo's fiscal year, neither PlayStation 4 nor Xbox One existed.

What's worse is that not even the release of several major new games seemed to help. There was “Pikmin 3,” “Super Mario 3D World,” and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” but that seemed insufficient to draw new players to the player base. What's more, with fewer systems in play in the overall ecosystem, so too are there fewer opportunities to sell the software, which means developers will take a hit as games developed for the platform sell fewer copies overall.

However, there is reportedly a plan to help Nintendo turn around, as noted—though not really elaborated on—by Nintendo's president, Satoru Iwata. Not surprisingly, it revolves around the upcoming Electronics Entertainment Expo, or E3, event, regarded as pretty much the capitol of video game news releasing for the year. Reports suggest that the company will be bringing out a special “digital event” during the show to help demonstrate new products, including the latest releases in the popular “Super Smash Bros.” fighting game line.

Is this bad news for Nintendo? Make no mistake, it is. No company, not even one of Nintendo's sheer size and pull in the industry, can sustain those kinds of losses for any length of time, so clearly, Nintendo must do something to pull out of this tailspin and get back in the black. Of course, we've heard some ideas come out of Nintendo previously, like stepping up its involvement in the healthcare industry, but clearly Nintendo could use some more powerful draws to get into its systems. Nintendo's been working with indie developers, as well as with more and more varied platforms to develop on, but the key point seems to be here that Nintendo needs draws. We've seen that there's plenty of room in the sector for indie gaming, but Nintendo needs the numbers on its side.

Interestingly, a point from the Wii itself may hold something of the key here; with the Wii, as compared to the Xbox 360 and the PlayStation 3, it was all about gameplay. If Nintendo can get back to that, presenting that unusual style of gameplay—think about games like “Rayman: Raving Rabbids,” or the “Trauma Center” series or even “Real Heroes: Firefighter”--and a clear possibility emerges. Indeed, it may not just be about the games, but rather the gameplay as well, presenting new options for Nintendo's ultimate success, using the new controls in a fashion that gamers can't help but enjoy...and certainly, not ignore.

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