Following nearly two years of failing to meet their own sales expectations, Nintendo announced today that they’ve managed to get back into the black again by posting a healthy $88 million dollar profit for the first quarter of the 2013 fiscal year.
Nintendo attributes the gain to depreciated value of the yen and better than expected sales of 3DS hardware and games. The 3DS has been the best selling piece of hardware on the NPD charts for the last two months in a row, and Nintendo says they’ve sold over 1.4 million 3DS systems in the last three months. Nintendo specifically cited Animal Crossing: New Leaf as one of their biggest successes: the game has sold 1.5 million copies since its international release in June, and has nearly 4 million copies in Japan alone, for a total of over 5.4 million copies sold worldwide. Nintendo also revealed that Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon was also a surprise hit, having sold about 2.45 million copies worldwide since its March launch. In total, Nintendo says they sold 11 million 3DS games in the last quarter. The 3DS’ dominance doesn’t seem like it’ll end anytime soon, as the company is expecting similarly strong sales for the rest of the year, thanks to the upcoming launch of Pokemon X and Y and The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds this Fall.
News about the Wii U remains grim, however: Nintendo’s latest home console only sold 160,000 units in the last three months, and software sales for the same period only amounted to a million games total. As of today, the Wii U’s worldwide installed base is only 3.61 million. Nintendo also mentioned that while they’ve been able to sell 3DS hardware at a profit, they continue to sell Wii U consoles at a loss. Nintendo attributes slow sales of the system to a lack of software (duh — I’m having a hard time naming any noteworthy releases for the system from the last quarter, and it’s my job to keep track of these things.)
Despite the lower than expected sales, Nintendo says that they still expect to sell nine million Wii U’s by the end of the next fiscal year next Spring, as they’re expecting a strong holiday season due to exclusive titles like Pikmin 3, The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD, and Super Mario 3D Land, and an even stronger 2014 thanks to titles like Super Smash Bros. and Bayonetta 2.
Meanwhile, the original Wii has crossed a big milestone: Nintendo says that the six year old console sold an additional 210,000 units in the last three months (despite there being no big releases for the system,) pushing the system’s total sales over the 100 million unit mark. Only four other consoles have managed to break the 100 million barrier before: Sony’s PS2 and PS1, and Nintendo’s Gameboy and the original DS.
At the end of the last fiscal year, Nintendo CEO Satoru Iwata implied that he would resign if the company wasn’t profitable again before the end of the next fiscal year: it seems like Iwata has been successful (at least as far as Nintendo’s bottom line is concerned, anyway,) so far and won’t have to give up his job just yet.
While the 3DS’ sales are inspiring, I still have to question Nintendo’s handling of the Wii U: the quick solution to the Wii U’s problems is obviously a price-cut, but Nintendo remains strangely hesitant to drop the console’s MSRP. Let’s not forget that fanboys were proclaiming the 3DS to be dead-on-arrival within its first year, and Nintendo managed to turn that system’s fortunes around with a deep price-cut and a strong line-up of first party titles. The Wii U already has some decent first party games in the pipeline, now all it needs is that price cut to repeat the 3DS’s miraculous turnaround. At $349, I don’t see how the Wii U will be able to compete with the $400 PS3 this holiday season; but at $249 or even $299, it might stand a chance. This holiday season will make or break the Wii U, and I’m still shocked that Nintendo hasn’t done the one thing that’s guaranteed to increase the system’s flacid sales.