The lights are on
Nintendo has released its first quarter 2014 earnings results, along with information on hardware units shipped worldwide. Financially, the report is good news, with a return to positive net and ordinary income, with ¥8.62 billion ($88.1 million) on the bottom line. The product-based information tells a mixed story, though.
First, the good news. The 3DS, which was the best selling hardware in the United States for the past two months, continues to show strong performance across the world. In the quarter ending June 30, 2013, 1.4 million handhelds were sold.
Unfortunately, the Wii U exists on the opposite end of the spectrum. Only 160,000 consoles were sold around the world over the three month period, bringing the total to 3.61 million. This quarter saw total first-party software sales for the console only amount to 1,030,000 units for the Wii U.
To put the software sales in perspective, Tomodachi Collection, a 3DS title released online in Japan in April has sold 1,390,000 alone. That's more than the entirety of Nintendo Wii U software. Nintendo has also reported that the 210,000 Wii units were sold worldwide this quarter, which has the legacy hardware outpacing its nine-month old Wii U.
Nintendo is holding steady its forecasting, which puts the company at ¥55 billion net income ($563.3 million) at the end of the current fiscal year. Additionally, sales projections remain unchanged, with Nintendo targeting sales of 900,000 Wii U units and 1.8 million 3DS handhelds.
Our TakeAs I mentioned when the June NPD report was released, the 3DS continues to be a powerhouse. Nintendo has every reason to celebrate the ubiquitousness of its handheld hardware. It's a great system and one that carry everywhere I go, especially with the new Street Pass games and relay system.
The Wii U is in trouble, though. 160,000 units in three months, with the Wii outpacing it still is a problem for Nintendo. The only way Wii U demand is going to pick up is with a steady flow of strong titles. That isn't going to come from third parties. Nintendo has admitted it underestimated the shift to HD, and the slow trickle of games needs to turn into a flood.
There have still been no announcements about a new Zelda game. Metroid, Star Fox, F-Zero, and Kid Icarus are absent. Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart won't arrive until well into calendar 2014.
Pikmin 3 (which is selling very well in Japan), The Wonderful 101, third-party titles are going to motivate some, but not in the numbers that Nintendo needs. Is the company in trouble? No. But it's impossible to deny that the Wii U needs something big to jumpstart the engine. As time goes on, it's only going to get harder.