Nintendo slumps to loss as game sales fade

Nintendo, maker of the Wii home console and DS handheld, slumped into the red last quarter as sales faded amid a strong yen and a lack of new game titles.

Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. said Thursday it suffered a loss of 25.22 billion yen ($289.17 million) for the April-June period compared with a profit of 42.32 billion yen a year earlier — the first in six quarters. Sales for the fiscal first quarter sank 25.6 percent to 188.65 billion yen ($2.16 billion).

Fewer releases of new software titles contributed to a sharp drop in sales of game consoles.

Nintendo sold 3.15 million of its DS game consoles during the quarter compared with 5.97 million a year earlier. Sales of software titles fell to 22.42 million units from 29.01 million.

Nintendo said a strong yen and price competition among makers of game consoles in Japan and Europe “adversely impacted” sales. Foreign exchange losses, meanwhile, were 70.5 billion yen ($808 million).

Nintendo’s video games and consoles, the Wii and DS, continue to dominate sales rankings, but the company cut prices of the DS in June to spur demand.

Sales fell worldwide, but most sharply in Europe.

Popular software titles such as “Pokemon” series and “Tomodachi (friends) Collection” for DS, and “New Super Mario Bros. Wii,” sold well, Nintendo said in a statement. “However, fewer new software titles contributed to driving hardware sales.”

The company saw steady hardware sales for Wii, rising to 3.04 million units from 2.23 million the previous year, but Wii software sales slumped to 28.17 million from 31.07 million.

Nintendo now aims to outmaneuver rivals in 3-D and unveiled in June the 3DS, a 3-D version of its handheld device that does not require glasses. The company plans to launch nine software titles, including Mario, for 3DS in Japan, U.S. and European markets through March, though exact dates have not been disclosed.

The company kept its earnings projections for the fiscal year through March 2011 unchanged. Nintendo expects a net profit of 200 billion yen ($2.29 billion), down 12.5 percent from a year earlier on projected sales of 1.4 trillion yen ($16.01 billion).

Nintendo shares closed down 1.5 percent at 24,620 yen in Tokyo.

Associated Press