Less Than 500,000 Sold Over Six Months
Nintendo have reported a small overall profit in their latest quarterly financial report, but blame the Wii U for underperforming yet again. It's a catch-22: sales are up, but the price cut means that they're still not making any serious money. Plus, "up" is a distinctly relative term.
All hinges, then, on this Christmas.
In terms of raw numbers, Nintendo posted profits of $6.1 million, a relatively slim figure that they largely credit to "exchange gains" following the depreciation of the Yen (plain/grossly oversimplified English: they're still making money via financial forces beyond their control).
The Wii U's sales have picked up from 160,000 in the last quarter to 300,000, largely down to the release of several first-party exclusives such as Pikmin 3, but this means that less than half a million consoles have been sold in the last six months worldwide. An operating loss of $236.2 million was laid at the door of Wii U marketing - something we find hilariously difficult to believe - and R&D, while the increased sales haven't led to any extra money due to the price cut.
"The Wii U hardware still has a negative impact on Nintendo's profits, owing mainly to its markdown in the United States and Europe," said the company in a statement, which we feel is somewhat disingenuous. The fact is that the console simply isn't selling, and the marketing is either non-existent or deeply confusing. Nintendo needs to broadcast a coherent message about the Wii U's appeal, features and upcoming software.
That said, it's worth noting that the increased sales due to the release of The Legend Of Zelda: Wind Waker HD haven't been included in the report, which is accurate up to the end of September 2013, and we've argued that the Wii U will probably fare fairly well over Christmas. It will need to, since Nintendo are still sticking to their guns both in terms of annual financial forecasts and projected sales of 9 million Wii U consoles before next March.
Elsewhere, the 3DS is still bringing home the bacon, with overall sales down but 34.98 million units flogged since launch, and 27.38 million units of software sold during the last quarter. Again, these figures were accurate at the end of September 2013, so the effect of Pokemon X and Y (and the 2DS) haven't yet kicked in.
This Christmas is going to be very important for Nintendo. Will a cheap price, small selection of great games and a potentially lucrative Tesco partnership secure the ailing console the increased install base it needs?