It’s a tough world out there in the tech industry. Of course, the global economic turmoil has made it pretty tough going in most industries.
But some of the big tech companies are suffering more than most. Sony, for example, is losing money elbow over kneecap (that’s like hand over fist, but much worse). And Nintendo is another struggler, with the latest fiscal results from the Japanese gaming giant not making for pleasant reading.
The financial results for the quarter running up to the end of June showed that Ninty took 85 billion yen in revenue, which equates to around £700 million. That’s down 10 per cent on the same quarter last year, a pretty nasty blow.
That resulted in a net loss of around 17 billion yen, around £140 million, and some rather unhappy faces in the boardroom, no doubt.
As CNET notes, that’s way down on the glory days of 2008, when the firm made five times that revenue at 423 billion yen.
So what’s the major problem, here? The Wii console has faded away, shifting just 700,000 units this quarter, when last year it was doing more than double that. Of course, with the Wii U on the horizon at the end of the year, many buyers are likely to wait for the new hardware.
The 3DS, however, has moved up a gear since its initial lacklustre performance. It shifted 920,000 units in Japan, and 420,000 in the US. The 3DS XL is out this weekend, too, and will hope to pep sales further along with the Wii U.
Total sales of the 3DS now stand at 19 million, and the company is no longer selling the device at a loss.
Also, the Wii U could certainly spark some sales with its tablet controller. This has lots of potential for novel uses, such as in Nintendo Land: Animal Crossing, where one player uses the tablet to chase the others who are playing viewing the TV (via split-screen).
The clever bit is that the chasing player is invisible to them – and moving using the tablet, hunting them down. He only becomes visible on the TV screen when very close to an opponent. That’s a new twist on multiplayer, and hopefully the Wii U’s games will be able to get imaginative along many other lines such as this.
The potential drawback for the Wii U is the price. What with the tablet controller and all, the danger is that it could be pitched too richly for the more casual gamers who are typically Nintendo’s audience. And that could put a dampener on sales.
And Nintendo could most definitely do without that prospect.