Nintendo swings to loss as Wii U sales fall short

Video game maker Nintendo sank to a loss in the latest quarter as sales of its Wii U game console continued to be eroded by a shift to gaming on smartphones and tablets.

Nintendo’s glory days may be behind it, after another quarter of disappointing console sales resulted in a loss for the Japanese games maker as it continues to ignore the now-booming smartphone and tablet market.

The company lost eight billion yen ($81 million US) in the third quarter, bringing its total loss for the fiscal year to 23 billion yen in just six months. Nintendo has forecast a profit of 100 billion yen for its fiscal year, which is now looking to be out of reach.

Nintendo, best known for its iconic Super Mario and Pokemon games, sold just 300,000 Wii U consoles between July and September, an increase from 160,000 sold three months earlier. But with the console only a year old, those numbers are not inspiring confidence.

By comparison, Microsoft reported sales of 1.2 million Xbox 360 consoles over the same time period, eight years after the console originally launched.

Nintendo has a sales target of nine million Wii U consoles by the end of its fiscal year in March 2014, but the weak sales this year put the total so far at 3.9 million.

The holiday season may be the best chance Nintendo has of reaching that target, but it faces fresh competition with its main competitors, Microsoft and Sony, releasing new next-generation consoles next month.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 will be released on Nov. 15 at a price of $399, followed a week later by Microsoft’s Xbox One which will cost $499.

Nintendo may be hoping to compete on price, having lowered the price of the Wii U to $249 from $300 for the basic model.

The company's business has been shaken in recent years as more people play games on their smartphone and tablets. So far Nintendo has resisted offering its games on those platforms, but analysts say continued poor performance could force a change in strategy.


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