Nintendo's profit falls as talk of new NX console grows

By Leo Kelion
Technology desk editor

  • Published
Nintendo Wii UImage source, Nintendo
Image caption,
The Wii U - whose controller features its own a touchscreen - has not been a hit for Nintendo

Nintendo has reported a drop in profits, after relatively weak sales of games for its Wii U console.

The Japanese company's net income for the September-to-December quarter was 29.1 billion yen ($241m; £168m) - 36% lower than for the same period in 2014.

The results add to pressure on Nintendo to formally announce a new machine.

It has already started sending select developers a software kit for a forthcoming "Nintendo NX" console, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Nintendo pointed to the success of its Splatoon shooter and Super Mario Maker platform games for the Wii U, which have sold a combined total of 7.4 million copies to date.

But one company watcher said total sales of 10.25 million of Nintendo's own Wii U games over the last three months of the year were disappointing, reflecting fewer than one game sold for every Wii U bought to date, despite it being the Christmas period.

Image source, Nintendo
Image caption,
Nintendo's paint-based shoot-em-up Splatoon was its bestselling title

Part of that figure is accounted for by games bought by retailers that have not been sold to the public, and titles bundled with the 1.9 million new units of the console shipped over the three months.

"The history of how the Wii U was marketed and users' actual experiences have not lived up to expectations," said Piers Harding-Rolls, from the IHS consultancy.

"Even with some compelling games like Splatoon, they still haven't managed to drive sales of the platform."

Although other companies also publish titles for the Wii U, Nintendo's own games tend to dominate the market, which is not the case for Microsoft's Xbox One and Sony's PlayStation 4.

IHS now forecasts the Wii U will sell only a fifth of the number of consoles of its predecessor, the Wii, over its lifetime.

E3 announcement?

Nintendo's former chief executive Satoru Iwata died of cancer last July.

He had announced plans for a "non-wearable way to monitor health", but Nintendo has yet to reveal a related product.

Mr Iwata's successor, Tatsumi Kimishima, has taken the company in a new direction, promising to release smartphone apps as part of an alliance with the mobile games firm DeNA.

Image source, Nintendo
Image caption,
Nintendo's first smartphone game, Miitomo, is due to be released in March

However, Mr Harding-Rolls said he believed Nintendo's main focus was on pushing out a successor to the Wii U.

"I think we'll definitely hear more about the NX at the E3 games expo [in June]," he said.

"It's also possible that we could also see a regional launch of the new product into the market this year, even if a global rollout has to wait."

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