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Nintendo's nine-month profits soar on Pokémon and Seattle Mariners sale

Pokémon Sun & Moon sold 14.7m units worldwide, full-year profit forecast almost doubled to ¥‎90 billion

Nintendo entered the final quarter of the fiscal year in a position of strength, with revenue from Pokémon software and the sale of the Seattle Mariners more than doubling profits year-on-year.

In the nine month period ended December 31, 2016, Nintendo earned ¥‎311.1 billion ($2.7b / €2.6b) in revenue, down 27% from the same period a year ago. The company's profits showed the opposite trend, climbing 154% to hit ¥‎103 billion ($904m / €845m).

Nintendo sold 6.45 million units of the 3DS worldwide during that period, and 46.8 million units of software - a 10% and 20% increase year-on-year respectively. The Wii U's fortunes were very different, with software sales falling 45% to 12.48 million and hardware sales dropping 75% to 0.76 million units. Nintendo's forecast had expected 0.8 million sales of the Wii U.

But there's more to the overall health of Nintendo's balance sheet than the 3DS and the Wii U. The company recorded extraordinary income of ¥‎63.5 billion ($558m / €521m) thanks to the sale of The Seattle Mariners, which is included as part of that ¥‎103 billion profit figure. Without it, Nintendo's profit would be essentially flat versus last year.

There was also a ¥‎16.7 billion ($147m / €137m), "share of profit of entities accounted for using the equity method related to The Pokémon Company and other investments." That amount was recorded under Nintendo's ¥‎49.1 billion ordinary income.

The Pokémon Go effect was evident elsewhere on Nintendo's balance sheet, too. Pokémon Sun & Moon has sold 14.7 million units worldwide since it launched in November last year, making it the third most successful 3DS game behind Mario Kart 7. Pokemon Omega Ruby & Alpha Sapphire and Pokemon X & Y were also listed among Nintendo's million-sellers, shifting 1.8 million and 1.3 million units respectively.

The other big sellers for the nine-month period were Super Mario Maker on 3DS, which sold just over 2 million units despite only launching at the start of December 2016, and Mario Kart 7 (3DS, 1.5m) and Kirby: Planet Robobot (1.3m).

The glaring omission from Nintendo's sales data was Super Mario Run for iOS. The company once again mentioned that it had been downloaded 40 million times in the four days following its launch, but there was no detail on the amount it earned. However, "smart device, IP related income," which encompasses all of Nintendo's smart device products, was ¥‎10.7 billion ($94m / €88m).

Looking forward, Nintendo will significantly bolster its smartphone offering with two launches: Fire Emblem on February 2, and the Android version of Super Mario Run on an unspecified date in March. However, the release of Animal Crossing, which had been scheduled for the next quarter, has been pushed into the next fiscal year.

Realistically, though, all eyes now turn to Nintendo's new console, the Switch, which launches worldwide on March 3. The launch line-up includes the feverishly anticipated The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, but otherwise the amount of software available for the console has become a common point of concern. You can read our hands-on report with the Switch here.

Nintendo has also revised its profit forecast: it now expects to earn ¥90 billion ($790m / €738m) by the end of March 2017, versus the ¥50 billion it forecast back in October 2016.

Update: Nintendo has stopped production of the Wii U in Japan. Kotaku spotted an update on the official Nintendo website that confirmed the end for the console.

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Matthew Handrahan


Matthew Handrahan joined GamesIndustry in 2011, bringing long-form feature-writing experience to the team as well as a deep understanding of the video game development business. He previously spent more than five years at award-winning magazine gamesTM.