Nintendo's First Quarter is Strong, Thanks to Splatoon and Amiibo

Nintendo's First Quarter is Strong, Thanks to Splatoon and Amiibo

The company finds good money in trying out new ventures

Nintendo has released its financial earnings report for the first quarter of fiscal year 2015. The period, which ended on June 30 2015, saw increased sales due to the success of Splatoon and the Amiibo lineup. The company reported a 20.8 percent increase over last year's first quarter, with sales totaling 90.2 billion yen ($728.4 million). Operating income came to 1.2 billion yen ($9.3 million) and profit hit 8.3 billion yen ($66.8 million), versus losses in both categories for last year's first quarter.

Nintendo also reached a significant milestone with the Wii U finally achieving global sales of 10 million units, nearly 3 years after its initial launch. In contrast, the Wii hit 10 million somewhere in-between June and September of 2007, after launching in November of 2006. Sony's PlayStation 4 likewise hit 10 million sold within nine months. It's been slow going for Nintendo's current home console, but the company has been able to deliver consistent hits in the past few years, including Mario Kart 8, Super Smash Bros, and Splatoon.

So where was the money coming from? Splatoon drove sales on 1.62 million units, helping the Wii U sell 470,000 systems and 4.55 million games during the quarter. Most of the sales growth was in Nintendo's home region of Japan, where sales jumped from 60,000 during the same period last year to 150,000 in Q1 2015. American sales of the Wii U dropped from 280,000 to 190,000, a loss that was mirrored elswhere, seeing overall Wii U sales down for the quarter.

The new Nintendo 3DS pushed global 3DS sales to 1.01 million units, and titles like Fire Emblem Fates, Girls Mode 3: Kirakira Code, Rhythm Tengoku: The Best+, and Puzzle & Dragons Z saw success on the platform. Finally, though Nintendo did not give specific numbers, the company's report states that "favorable sales of Amiibo" contributed to the improved net sales.

Nintendo hopes Western kids love Yo-Kai Watch as much as Japanese kids do.

Nintendo also laid out the schedule for its previously-announced releases. There are some highlights, like Bravely Second: End Layer and Genei Ibun Roku #FE coming to the United States and Europe in 2016 or Star Fox Zero releasing everywhere by Holiday 2015. The Legend of Zelda Wii U may not launch in 2016 though, as Nintendo still has the title's release date as "TBD", alongside Project Giant Robot. Third-party highlights include Project X Zone 2, Dragon Quest VIII, Mighty No. 9, Yo-Kai Watch (which will be published by Nintendo in the West), and Monster Hunter X, all for the 3DS.

Overall, the successes of this quarter should show Nintendo that there's room for more non-traditional titles. While the company's strength still lies with Mario, Zelda, and other franchises, Nintendo has a strong platform to expand outward with new ideas. The company has not been devoid of innovation in the past - just look at the design of the Wii and Wii U - but Splatoon and Amiibo show the strength of fully committing to these new directions. Let's hope Nintendo's partnership with DeNA works out just as well.

The company recently suffered the loss of president Satoru Iwata, who was a big part of Nintendo's long march back to profitability. Speculation is that either of the company's senior managing directors, Genyo Takeda or Shigeru Miyamoto, will assume the presidential role. Whoever takes the role has to transition the company to its all-new NX platform, manage the mobile game partnership with DeNA, and oversee the continuing expansion of Nintendo's properties into other media. Even beyond that, the new president has to rebuild Nintendo's strained third-party relationships if they want the NX to be a huge success. That's a tall order for any new president, so Nintendo's board has a difficult decision ahead.

For now, Nintendo is firmly back in the black. Where will they go from here?

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Mike Williams

Reviews Editor

M.H. Williams is new to the journalism game, but he's been a gamer since the NES first graced American shores. Third-person action-adventure games are his personal poison: Uncharted, Infamous, and Assassin's Creed just to name a few. If you see him around a convention, he's not hard to spot: Black guy, glasses, and a tie.

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