Nintendo’s post-financial release presentation to investors discussed the firm’s strategies for bouncing back from a rough quarter, including more and better Wii U games; another push with the 3DS; and a mysterious effort from Shigeru Miyamoto.
Nintendo Q3 FY13
In a financial release yesterday, Nintendo slashed its sales forecasts.
A number of Nintendo games crossed the 1 million sales milestone in the last three months.
Nintendo hopes to work closely with third-parties moving forward, a break from its historic tendency to leave developers to their own devices. It also hopes to promote use of the game Pad, particularly with regards to asymmetrical gameplay.
The 3DS is very strong in Japan, doing well in Europe, and lagging in the US.
We won’t see an official English translation of the briefing for a few days yet, but Japanese industry analyst David Gibson provided rapid fie updates on Twitter.
Iwata opened the briefing by taking personal responsibility for Nintendo failing to meet its forecasts, before moving on to happier topics.
3DS is performing strongly in Japan, accounting for three of the top five best-selling games; Animal Crossing: New Leaf in particular has been lucrative and out-performed expectations. Nintendo noted increased digital sales with Animal Crossing.
Nintendo has noted increased 3DS uptake by female users compared to when the last Animal Crossing released on DS seven years ago. At launch, the 3DS had a 25% female consumer base but during the week that New Leaf launched it held an even gender split.
Things are less splendid in the US; only two 3DS titles made the top 20 for the quarter. US 3DS sales are now -27% lower than Japanese figures, as opposed to previous quarters in which US sales built on Japan’s by two and a half times.
In Europe, Germany and France are the strongest markets for 3DS hardware and showed year-on-year growth. The UK performed less strongly but 3DS is still tracking ahead of DS.
Iwata blamed the lack of software in international markets for the #DS’s lack of popularity overseas, but said the portable is now Japan’s leading platform.
In general, Nintendo laid claim to a number of best-selling titles in various territories: Five out of ten in the US, ten out of 20 in Germany, and 11 out of 20 in France and Spain.
Iwata said the Wii U has failed to deliver a value proposition to consumers. Nintendo is already selling it below cost and has no plans to lower the price further. The firm plans to work more closely with third-parties in the future rather than simply issue licenses.
The executive said it’s now much easier for Nintendo and third-parties to develop on Wii U and the firm intends to keep improving in this regard. He said that the Wii U’s processor is memory optimised and this means its CPU and GPU stats are less important – but noted that higher-powered competitors are no doubt using similar optimisation techniques.
The Wii U now boasts an online connectivity rate of 74%. Nintendo has initiatives to increase use of the Game Pad. one example is Wii Street U powered by Google, a Japan-only release, which has been delayed to mid-February.
More Wii U software is expected from the middle of the year onwards, with particular reference to Shigeru Miyamoto. Miyamoto will ‘change his gaming style’, apparently, and the famed designer said developers have not yet built much uniqueness into Wii U titles.
Iwata said personally the Wii U has become ‘part of his life’ and that it’s the first time a console has been so central to him. He reiterated his belief that cloud gaming won’t replace unique hardware like the Wii U, but admitted that smartphone gaming is now a serious rival to consoles in terms of quality. He said Nintendo will simply up its game and offer better products in response.
One feature Nintendo intends to capitalise on to do so is asymmetrical gameplay, which will feature in Pikmin 3 but will not be used in every game. Iwata said he feels Nintendo needs to better communicate asymmetrical gameplay.
Moving forward, Iwata said packaged goods won’t go away but digital sales will add to them and are the key to growth. He said Nintendo’s platforms hosted 11 billion sales in nine months. NFC will be a focus for the company in the future, but Nintendo won’t have anything to reveal until the end of the yeas.
Nintendo aims to meet new aggressive Japanese targets thanks to current and upcoming releases Monster Hunter 4, Dragon Quest 7, Animal Crossing and Pokemon X/Y.
Internationally, Fire Emblem, Brain Age, Lego City and Animal Crossing are all expected by mid year, plus ten in-house 3DS titles, which may be eShop offerings and third-party offerings like professor Layton.
“It is my mission to improve and make our platforms solid,” Iwata concluded, saying the Wii U will be driven by increased software sales after northern summer.
Nintendo’s announced release schedule is available in the gallery.