Nintendo loses nearly $1 billion as Wii sales plummet

The game company is suffering from slumping sales of Wii hardware and software, as well as a weak yen.

Don Reisinger
Former CNET contributor Don Reisinger is a technology columnist who has covered everything from HDTVs to computers to Flowbee Haircut Systems. Besides his work with CNET, Don's work has been featured in a variety of other publications including PC World and a host of Ziff-Davis publications.
Don Reisinger
2 min read
The Nintendo Wii was hit hard over the last six months.
The Nintendo Wii was hit hard over the last six months. Nintendo

During the six-month period ended September 30, Nintendo saw its financial performance decline significantly, the company reported in a financial earnings release today.

Nintendo generated 215.7 billion yen ($2.84 billion) in revenue during the six-month period, representing a whopping 40.6 percent decline compared to the same period last year. Even more concerning, Nintendo's net loss hit $926 million, down significantly from the $26 million it lost in the six-month period ended September 30, 2010.

Judging by Nintendo's earnings report, the company was hit by two main issues: hardware and software sales were off, and it was contending with an extremely strong yen. In fact, the company was forced to take a 52.4 billion yen ($690.5 million) foreign exchange loss, due to unfavorable exchange rates between with the dollar and euro.

But Nintendo's troubles selling products is arguably most troublesome for the company. During the six-month period, Nintendo was only able to sell 3.3 million Wii units around the world, down significantly from the nearly 5 million Wiis it sold in the prior year. What's more, the company's Wii software sales, which hit 65 million units last year, were down to just 36 million this year.

On the portable side, things aren't looking much better. Nintendo was only able to sell 3 million 3DS units and 8.1 million 3DS software units during the six-month period. With just 2.6 million DS units sold, Nintendo actually sold fewer portables this year than it did last year when the DS was the only portable family on store shelves.

Nintendo's troubles in the portable space, especially, have been well-documented. Earlier this year, the company launched the 3DS in the hopes it would take off like its predecessors. But it didn't. And after a disappointing 710,000 unit sales during the second quarter of the year, Nintendo was forced to drop the price of the 3DS to $169.99 from its initial price of $249.99.

Even with that price cut, however, it doesn't appear Nintendo has had too much success attracting customers to its 3DS. In fact, in the U.S. alone, it sold just 810,000 3DS units over the six-month period ended September 30.

Looking ahead, Nintendo says that it expects to ship 6 million Nintendo DS units during the full fiscal year, which is down from the 9 million units it initially planned to ship. Nintendo is holding firm to its estimates that it will sell 12 million Wiis and 16 million 3DS units this year. On the software side, Nintendo expects to sell 100 million Wii games and 50 million 3DS titles, down from 110 million units and 70 million units, respectively.