Nintendo Earnings Report Sets March 2017 Release Date For NX

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Nintendo President Tatsumi Kimishima

Though confirmed details on what exactly Nintendo’s new console (codenamed NX) remains scarce, we now know that Nintendo plans to put the device on the market across the globe next March. This info comes from an earnings statement released for investors tonight, in which Nintendo has made public some of its plans for the next year.

Specific info on the NX is still slim, with the document simply referring to the NX as “a brand new concept” and reaffirming that the company’s “unique software-led hardware-software integrated business” would be the “core” focus for the company. In other words, though Nintendo is exploring mobile games, toys-to-life, and other uses for its IP, expect console games to be the backbone even once the NX releases.

That said, the earnings statement did also detail Nintendo’s plans in those arenas, too. According to the statement, Nintendo is planning to continue to release apps for smart devices, “to further expand [Amiibo] sales by offering new gaming experiences,” and to offer theme park attractions featuring Nintendo characters. In a section attempting to justify the increased leveraging of Nintendo IP in non-game content.

With the belief in our mission to put smiles on people’s faces around the world through products and services, we have followed our basic strategy of expanding the gaming population by offering products that can be enjoyed by everyone regardless of age, gender or gaming experience. We now want to take this mission a step further by increasing the number of people who have access to Nintendo’s intellectual property (Nintendo IP). We are actively offering Nintendo IP in a variety of different ways so that not only current players of our video games but all consumers – including those who used to play but currently do not and even those who have never played our video games before – will also come in contact with Nintendo IP.

On one hand, I appreciate Nintendo’s stated interest in inclusivity. On the other, it feels like a really cleaned up way of saying “Oh boy, we really need to reach beyond the normal demographic and sell more stuff.”

The earnings statement made no mention of the upcoming Zelda game, which could indicate that it won’t release until fiscal 2017.

That read makes a lot of sense when you take a look at the financial side of this report. Life to date, Nintendo has sold 12.8 million Wii U units, which isn’t a favorable comparison next to the PS4’s 35M+ or the Xbox One’s 19M+ units sold. With standout software sales from Splatoon (4.27 million units) and Super Mario Maker (3.52 million units), this year’s Wii U performance isn’t necessarily grim, but it does illustrate the limited scope of the Wii U’s success. And while Nintendo is hopeful that Pokemon Sun/Moon, Kirby Robobot, and Metroid Prime: Federation Force will carry the 3DS in 2016, I’m a more than a little skeptical. So, I understand why the company would be looking for new sources of income. And when Miitomo, the company’s first mobile app, has already brought in 16.5 billion yen (around $148M USD) in profit, it’s easy to see why Nintendo wants to current to expand in that new direction.

You can find the whole earnings report here and can expect Nintendo to follow up with its usual investor briefing in the next day or so.

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