Nintendo reports first annual loss as Wii sales suffer

Nintendo results A price cut for the Nintendo 3DS has failed to revive the company's figures

Nintendo, the Japanese game giant, has reported its first annual loss after disappointing sales of its Wii game console and a strong yen hit revenues.

The company reported a net loss of 43.2bn yen ($533m; £329m) for the year, compared with net income of 77.6bn yen the year before.

The Kyoto-based company had expected losses of 65bn yen as the strong yen made exports dearer.

But it now expects to return to profit in 2012 as the yen weakens.

Super Mario

Analysis

The E3 trade show could prove crucial to Nintendo's fortunes.

The firm has confirmed the "final form" of the Wii U will go on show.

Microsoft and Sony have already said they will not unveil a new Xbox or Playstation, giving their rival a chance to make a splash and get a head start on next-generation console sales.

While Wii U demos show the machine running hi-def 1080p graphics, high-spending hardcore gamers may still be tempted to wait. But a relatively low price point could help tip the balance in Nintendo's favour, if only as a stopgap.

Rumour sites suggest it could sell for $300 in the US. A similar trick helped the original Wii - which launched for $250 - become the best-seller.

It may also act to drive further sales of its 3DS handheld. A price cut and Super Mario 3D Land have already given the device a boost. A release date for Luigi's Mansion 2 and perhaps even a 3DS redesign could create further buzz.

Nintendo, which once led the video games world with titles such as Pokemon and Super Mario, has suffered increasing competition from casual gamers playing on their smartphones instead.

The company had also been selling its 3DS handheld device below cost during the year thanks to a price cut it was forced to make in response to intensifying competition in the sector.

But it hopes to reverse this situation later this year and plans to launch a new 2D version of its Super Mario Bros. game this August.

While sales of Nintendo's Wii console have been slowing of late, the company still shifted 9.84m units for the year to March 2012 and has sold over 95m in total.

Flagging market

It is hoping an updated version, the Wii U, due for launch at the end of this calendar year, will help revive the flagging console market.

The new tablet-sized console will feature a touch-screen, HD graphics and motion sensors. It will allow players to view different perspectives on the controller screen while seeing another viewpoint on the big TV screen.

But some analysts believe that competition from online social-networking games and smartphone apps is denting the console market irrevocably.

"The games console market is declining altogether because mobile phone devices are allowing casual gamers to play much more easily wherever they happen to be," said Stuart Miles, head of Pocket-lint, the technology review site.

"I don't think Nintendo's Wii U is likely to change that trend."

Nintendo is likely to launch the Wii U at the E3 gaming expo in Los Angeles this June.

Nintendo console sales

2010-11 2011-12 Forecast 2012-13

Source: Nintendo

DS (DSi and DSi XL)

17.5m

5.1m

2.5m

3DS

3.6m

13.5m

18.5m

Wii

15.1m

9.8m

10.5m

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