Nintendo, whose consoles and colorful Mario and Donkey Kong characters once helped the company climb to the top of the video-game world, stunned investors Friday by sharply lowering its financial forecasts. The dire news was the latest indication Nintendo wildly misjudged gamers’ shift to mobile devices.
Nintendo said it now expected to sell nearly 70 percent fewer of its new consoles, the Wii U, than expected. The company had hoped new games would swell demand for the year-old console over the recent holiday season.
That demand never materialized, and the company said that even its portable 3DS game system, which has been relatively popular, had missed forecasts. Instead of an annual profit of $527 million, Nintendo plans to report a net loss of $240 million.
There have been growing signs in the last year that Nintendo had lost a step to bigger game competitors, like Sony and Microsoft, and more enticing devices made by the mobile industry. But the numbers released Friday laid bare the extent of the damage.
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“This is one of the most surprising pre-announcements we’ve seen in the industry,” said Evan Wilson, an analyst at Pacific Crest Securities. “Not in terms of the Wii U not doing well, but the magnitude by which they had to revise their forecast.”
In a sign of the seriousness of its predicament, Nintendo President Satoru Iwata said the company might have to make bold changes to adapt to the mobile devices that have shaken up its business, perhaps by releasing its games and characters in some form on those devices.