The Wii U home console continues to be a lead weight on Nintendo’s bottom line.
Nintendo suffered both an operating loss and net loss for its fiscal year that ended March 31, as the Wii U’s sales continue to be a problem. The Kyoto, Japan-based company has sold only 6.17 million Wii U game consoles since its November 2012 release, including just 310,000 sold in the most recent quarter.
That’s a disaster for Nintendo, the oldest and most venerable console gaming company. On an operating basis, Nintendo lost ¥46.4 billion ($457 million), compared to an operating loss of $358 million a year earlier. The company had a net loss of ¥23.2 billion ($229 million), compared with a profit of $68.9 million a year earlier. Revenues were $5.63 billion, compared to $6.26 billion a year earlier.
By contrast, Sony has sold through more than 7 million PlayStation 4 consoles since November, and Microsoft has sold in more than 5 million Xbox One units to stores in the same time frame.
The 3DS handheld family sold 590,000 handhelds in Nintendo’s fourth quarter. In its lifecycle to date, the 3DS has sold 43.3 million devices. The new 2DS version has sold 2.2 million. But Nintendo said it predicts it will return to profitability in the 2014 fiscal year. It is forecast an operating profit of ¥40 billion ($394 million) with 3.6 million Wii U and 12 million 3DS consoles sold.
But Nintendo President Satoru Iwata doesn’t have a lot of credibility. He said up until January that the company would make a ¥100 billion profit (about $982 million) in 2013, only to acknowledge that the company would lose ¥35 billion (about $344 million) In the end, Iwata underestimated the loss by ¥11 billion ($108 million).
Nintendo is about to ship Mario Kart 8 on the Wii U. That’s one of its flagship games, but it’s hard to see how that can make much of a difference. In his statement, Iwata said that Nintendo would continue to transform itself by focusing on “quality of life” products such as health-related products. That means entertainment products like the Wii Fit exercise game.