Business / Corporate

Nintendo's game development to revive Wii U


Nintendo Co., the world’s biggest maker of video game machines, plans to revive demand for its Wii U through the release of its own new titles as sales of the console failed to meet forecasts amid a lack of software.

Building sales momentum will also make it more appealing for other studios to produce content, President Satoru Iwata told the firm’s annual shareholders’ meeting Thursday, according to an emailed statement.

There is no plan to cut jobs, the Kyoto-based company said.

Iwata is trying to bolster earnings with titles including “Wii Fit U” for the home console and “Animal Crossing: New Leaf” for the 3DS handheld player amid a shift in gaming to smartphones and tablets.

Nintendo faces new competition for the Wii U, which posted sales 37 percent below initial forecasts, as Microsoft Corp. and Sony Corp. both plan to release new machines for the Christmas shopping season.

“The only way to improve earnings is to sell good software titles,” said Masao Katsuura, an individual investor who attended the meeting in Kyoto. “I’m worried whether the company can release games as it plans.”

Media were not permitted to monitor the meeting at the company’s headquarters.

Iwata reiterated his January pledge for operating profit of ¥100 billion in the year ending next March, the company said. That compares with the ¥75.8 billion average of 21 analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The forecast is based on an exchange rate of ¥90 against the dollar and ¥120 to the euro, or weaker, Iwata said.

Sales of the Wii U, introduced in November, totaled 3.45 million in the financial year that ended last March. That compares with a target of 4 million set in January and an initial projection of 5.5 million. Nintendo, which attributed a lack of titles for lower than expected sales, plans to sell 9 million of the consoles in the current business year.

The creator of Super Mario, Zelda and Donkey Kong characters targets sales of 18 million units of the 3DS this financial year, up 29 percent from last year. The handheld player edged out Microsoft as the top-selling platform in the U.S. in May, researcher NPD Group Inc. said June 17. “Donkey Kong Country Returns 3D” and “Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon” helped increase Nintendo’s software sales, according to the company.

The Wii U, which starts at $300 in the U.S., features a 6.2-inch touchscreen controller that lets users wirelessly connect to the console and shift the display between the device and a TV. It is the industry’s first new home-gaming console since 2006, the year Nintendo released its predecessor, the Wii.

Sony’s PlayStation 4, which surged to the top of pre-orders on Inc.’s online shop after it unveiled the model earlier this month, will start from $399 when it is released in the U.S. later this year, boasting sharper graphics.

While Microsoft’s Xbox One will have a price tag of $499, it includes improved Kinect voice commands and motion sensing, content partnerships with the National Football League and access to Skype video calls. The next version of “Halo,” Microsoft’s top-selling science fiction game that anchored the previous Xbox, will arrive in 2014, the company said this month.

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