Nintendo Posts Six-Month Loss
In stating its April – September company results, Nintendo reported a six-month loss (versus profit): ¥2.01 billion ($24.7 million). Last year for this same time period, Nintendo had a profit of ¥69.5 billion ($854.6 million)– a 97% year-over-year drop. This is also the first time in seven years that Nintendo has suffered a profit loss in the first half of its fiscal year.
In addition to the yen’s continued strong position against the dollar, both Wii and DS hardware sales were primary culprits for Nintendo’s latest numbers. Wii hardware sales of 4.97 million were 13.6% less year-over-year, while DS hardware sales (all models) were down 42.7% Y-O-Y to 6.7 million units sold. To date, 75.9 million Wiis and 135.6 million DSs have been sold worldwide.
There were some bright spots in Nintendo’s reports. Super Mario Galaxy 2 has sold 5.1 million units worldwide since its May release, and Nintendo still forecasts selling 4 million 3DSs and 15 million copies of 3DS software by the end of March.
Keiji Inafune Resigns from Capcom and Daletto
A day after Shinji Mikami made waves in the news for agreeing to have his development studio Tango Gameworks be acquired by id Software and Bethesda Game Studios parent company Zenimax, another now-former star of Capcom made a similarly stirring announcement. Keiji Inafune, Mega Man’s character designer, and also the producer of later series Onimusha, Lost Planet and Dead Rising, announced via a blog his simultaneous resignation from Capcom as well as Daletto, a Capcom subsidiary that deals with online games business. Originally starting out as a graphic designer for the original Street Fighter 23 years ago, Inafune was ultimately promoted to the head of Capcom’s R&D and was an outspoken celebrity developer.
Inafune has not had as many happy things to say in the last couple months, telling The New York Times in September (after this year’s Tokyo Game Show) that all Japanese game developers were “making awful games” and “at least five years behind” the rest of the game development industry, Layton and Dragon Quest IX developer Level-5 excluded. A couple weeks later in a Japanese interview, he flat out said he didn’t like his job: “I hate it! I want to retire early and take it easy.”
Inafune has now put his money where his mouth is and completely quit Capcom. After insisting in his blog that he will always love Capcom, perhaps “more than anyone in the world,” he went on to write, “There was a chance that I could continue to be Capcom’s power. I bet on that chance until the end. The means of both Capcom and myself to be happy. That was surely possible. However, now that chance is completely closed off.”
While Inafune has not announced what job he’ll next pursue, Capcom has told Gamespot that it quickly reshuffled its development leadership, promoting Katsuhiko Ichii to the head of the development group, and Ichii will be supported by a five-person team of additional managers. Capcom further elaborated that the new development management team will “broader stroke approach to the development process.”
Nintendo Not Making Smartphones
Microsoft has incorporated Xbox Live features into its recently launched Windows Phone 7 platform, and Sony Ericsson is rumored to be making a PSP smartphone. That doesn’t mean we should expect Nintendo to follow suit with a new device or similar features in 3DS, which admittedly has some Wi-Fi (not 3GS) dependent social features.
In an interview with Fortune, Nintendo of America president Reggie Fils-Aime emphasized the variety of new features in the upcoming 3DS, the DS’s existing voice chat support, and even Nintendo’s current consideration to bring e-books back to DS if not 3DS.
“Certainly we are adding more and more elements to fill out the experience and take away more and more time from competing devices,” Fils-Aime told Fortune. “But our handhelds will always lead with games.”
Fils-Aime expressed skepticism that smartphone makers will follow Nintendo’s lead by adding 3D parallax screens to their hardware since those companies won’t have the content “to bring it to life.”
Regarding Apple’s direct competitive threat to Nintendo’s handheld gaming business, Fils-Aime said, “What I have on Apple is content, because it’s our content. That will give Nintendo a long-term competitive advantage.”