TOKYO -- Nintendo Co.'s profit for the fiscal first quarter surged 34 per cent from a year ago as sales of its hit Wii shot up, underlining the success of the wand-wielding video game console in attracting novice players.
The Japanese manufacturer of Super Mario and Pokemon video games reported Wednesday a 107.27 billion yen (US$996 million) profit for April-June, up from 80.25 billion yen the same period the previous year.
The big factor behind the stellar performance was the Wii and its game software, including the "Wii Fit," which has drawn the health-conscious to simple exercises like yoga and aerobics.
Nintendo sold 5.2 million Wii machines worldwide during the quarter -- 1.7 million more machines than for the same period last year. It also sold during the quarter 3.42 million "Wii Fit" games and 6.42 million "Mario Kart Wii" games.
Quarterly sales surged 24 per cent to 423.38 billion yen (US$3.9 billion), according to Kyoto-based Nintendo.
Nintendo has now sold a cumulative 29.6 million Wii machines worldwide since its arrival in late 2006.
The Wii has scored success against the PlayStation 3 from Japanese rival Sony Corp., which went on sale about the same time.
At the latest count, worldwide PS3 sales lagged at fewer than half of the Wii at 14.4 million.
On Tuesday, Sony said its April-June profit plunged to 34.98 billion yen (US$326.9 million) -- about half that recorded a year ago -- as a strong yen, the absence of "Spider-Man 3" revenue and faltering cell phone operations battered earnings.
Nintendo shrugged off an estimated 26.3 billion yen (US$246 million) erosion in its quarterly sales from a strengthening yen, which gained about 15 percent against the dollar from last year. Solid Wii sales were enough to offset the losses from an unfavorable exchange rate, Nintendo said.
Nintendo is planning to sell 25 million Wii consoles and 28 million DS machines for the fiscal year through March 2009.
Unlike old-style games that require players to push a complex combination of buttons, Wii comes with an easy-to-use remote to swing around like a tennis racket or fishing pole. The machine has proven appealing to relative newcomers to gaming, including the elderly and women.
Less robust were sales of the Nintendo DS handheld machines, which suffered especially in Japan, the company said.
DS sales for the quarter dipped by 40,000 to 6.94 million machines compared with a year earlier. Worldwide DS sales now total 77.54 million, according to Nintendo.
Nintendo kept its profit forecast for the fiscal year through March 2009 at 325 billion yen (US$3 billion), up 26.3 per cent from the record profit racked up the previous financial year. Its sales outlook was steady at 1.8 trillion yen (US$16.8 billion) sales, up 7.6 per cent from the previous year.
Nintendo said it will pursue an aggressive strategy to make its products a "must-have" for every individual, not just every home.
Nintendo shares gained 3.6 per cent to 57,600 yen (US$53 in Tokyo. Earnings were announced after trading ended.
I suspected the Wii would make it out on top this time..... oh, but nobody listened
It was all "PS3 has all this" and "PS3 can do this" and "PS3 has more power then the Wii" and "PS3 will have more games just like the PS2 did"
To me, the PS3 is just an overpriced paper weight and brought nothing new to the table that was worthwhile..... just more power to put out better graphics.... but it's still the same old games and gameplay.