Science

Wii helps Nintendo stay on target for record profit

Japanese gamemaker Nintendo Co. said Friday it is on course for record profits in the current fiscal year, bucking the deepening global financial crisis on surging demand for its blockbuster Wii home console.

Japanese gamemaker Nintendo Co. said Friday it is on course for record profits in the current fiscal year, bucking the deepening global financial crisis on surging demand for its blockbuster Wii home console.

Nintendo expects to earn 345 billion yen ($4.4 billion) in the year ending March 2009. The forecast was lowered by 16 per cent because of a stronger yen, but the new projection is still up 34 per cent from the previous financial year.

Nintendo president Satoru Iwata said worldwide sales of the Wii and the DS portable machine remain brisk in the face of a global downturn, and U.S. and European retailers complain they can hardly keep up with demand.

"As far as the overseas market is concerned, I have not seen any signs of slowing demand for the Wii and the DS due to the financial crisis," Iwata told a news conference a day after the company released quarterly earnings results.

"We can surely meet the sales target of the Wii."

Nintendo expects to sell 27.5 million units of the Wii worldwide in the year, far outpacing rival Sony Corp.'s sales target of 10 million units of the PlayStation 3 console.

Weekly Wii Fit sales hit 100,000 in U.S.

Iwata said the soaring sales of the Wii are because of popular software, including the hugely successful "Wii Fit" exercise game.

"In the United States alone, we are selling 100,000 copies of the Wii Fit game every week," he said.

On Thursday, the company said its half-year profit through September rose 9.4 per cent to 144.8 billion yen ($1.85 billion) as sales rose 20 per cent to 836.9 billion yen ($10.7 billion).

Kyoto-based Nintendo sold 8.76 million copies of the Wii Fit game worldwide in the six months to September, and Iwata said he expects to sell 10 million copies of the blockbuster exercise game around the world by the end of this year.

"We keep hearing from European and American retailers saying, 'Don't you have more the Wii, the Wii Fit and the DS?' It's a welcome headache for us," he said.

Nintendo's overseas sales, mainly in Europe and the United States, account for 88.5 per cent of the company's revenue, with the remaining 11.5 per cent from Japan.

Focus on Asian expansion

Iwata said the next challenge for Nintendo is to expand in Asia.

"We would like to focus on expanding our Asian market next year," he said without elaborating further.

On Saturday, the company is to start domestic sales of the Nintendo DSi, a variation of the DS that comes with a digital camera that will allow players to mix images, scribble on photos and create new faces. Iwata said the DSi will be available overseas early next year.

Nintendo sold 13.73 million DS hand gaming systems in the first half, up three per cent even though the device has been on the market for four years.

With the launch of the DSi, Iwata said Nintendo's ambition is to sell the DS machine for everyone.

"We are aiming to sell the DS for every individual, not for every household."

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