Nintendo Co. President Tatsumi Kimishima told reporters Wednesday the company is committed to delivering more content for smartphones, noting that the success of "Pokemon Go," a smartphone augmented-reality game, boosted sales of other Pokemon games and of 3DS machines. That helped Kyoto-based Nintendo, which creates Super Mario games, report a better-than-expected October-December profit of 64.7 billion yen ($569 million), more than twice its same-period profit in the previous year.
The Japanese video game maker also kept unchanged its original target of selling 2 million Switch consoles in the first month after its launch, despite speculation it might aim higher because of brisk pre-orders. The Switch, the first major hybrid console-and-hand-held game device, goes on sale March 3. It costs $299.99, more expensive than many had hoped. But Kimishima said the company did not want to go into the red.
Game makers often keep prices low, even taking a loss on each machine sold, in hopes of boosting sales and making up for the loss later with game software sales. Also yesterday, Nintendo said production of the Wii U home console had ended for all markets. The company had said earlier it planned to end Wii U production but had not given a date.
Nintendo said that to sustain profitability it will deliver a steady rollout of various games, including games for cellphones, at two to three a year. Kimishima said interest was growing for Pokemon among young children, including those who had never played the game before but were now playing with parents who grew up with Pokemon. Making Nintendo games available on smart devices was also wooing younger players, he said.
"Whether we can get them to buy the second or third game software is our challenge," Kimishima said.
Nintendo resisted switching to games on cellphones for years, fearing that could erode sales of its own consoles. But it made its big push into mobile with "Super Mario Run" for the iPhone, which launched late last year. It now has recorded 78 million downloads, according to the company.
Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto said he had not anticipated such a strong reception for "Pokemon Go" because responses were lukewarm when he showed it at events ahead of its launch. Once it went online, "the reaction was huge," he said.
"This is so unpredictable," Miyamoto added. "Smartphones are an important part of our business."
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