Nintendo Europe expects to see 50 per cent growth in its handheld business in Europe this year, according to European president Satoru Shibata, who says that the company hopes to sell over three million Nintendo DS consoles in 2005.
Speaking at a special event held last night to showcase Nintendo's line-up for Christmas, Shibata boasted of the huge success of the DS in Japan to date and its strong uptake in Europe - and made healthy forecasts for the European market for the rest of the year.
"We would like to sell over three million units of Nintendo DS across Europe by the end of 2005, and one million units in the UK alone," he told the audience in central London.
"Coupled with our forecasts on Game Boy Advance SP and Game Boy Micro, we are looking at a massive 50 per cent growth in the Nintendo handheld business in the UK."
The company is well on track to meet that target, according to Nintendo's UK boss David Yarnton, who revealed that "year to date - January to July - like for like sales of Nintendo handheld consoles are up 91 per cent, and that's in an environment of retail doom and gloom."
"That's almost double the market of the previous year," he continued. "38 per cent of all hardware sold this year in the UK is now attributable to Nintendo handheld consoles. In retail sales terms, by the end of 2005, Nintendo handheld hardware and first- and third-party software sales will account for a massive GBP 250,000,000 in sales in the UK alone."
Regardless of the imminent arrival of the PlayStation Portable in Europe - with Sony's system set to launch next Thursday - Nintendo is bullish about its prospects in this market for the rest of the year.
"Despite over 15 years of ownership of the portable games space, we're not planning to sit back and rest on our laurels," Yarnton told the audience. "We created portable gaming, and we're not moving out."
Both speakers highlighted Nintendogs as one of the key titles for the holiday season, with the game being presented as an example of a title which reaches far beyond the traditional gaming audience and appeals to a demographic previously untapped by the medium.
"The launch of Nintendogs was responsible for making Nintendo DS into the best selling game system in Japan, in fact selling two to three times the rate of the PSP - both hardware and software," Shibata pointed out.
"We have also seen in Japan that a massive 40 per cent of purchasers of Nintendogs are females - clear testament that we are expanding the market, and people's very perception of what a videogame is."