Nintendo's Q3 Fiscal Year: Pocket Monsters

Nintendo announced their third-quarter earnings for the fiscal year to mixed reaction.

6.45 million 3DS units were sold (10% increase YoY), driven by strong Pokémon Sun and Moon performance with 14.69 million units sold. In a press release, Nintendo points to the popularity of Pokémon GO as helping boost sales of Pokémon Sun and Moon, as well as boost hardware sales outside of Japan.

I’m fairly shocked by the 3DS numbers. The six year old, 240p handheld apparently still has legs amongst the massive mobile market. While I’d say that may be good news for the Switch, a “home” console that’s performance seemingly can’t match that of the PS4 or Xbox One, the 3DS starts at half the price of the Switch, $150 sliding up to $199 for an XL, and boasts a 1000+ game library¹.

I know the Switch is marketed as a home console, but I can’t help but see it as a great handheld. With that perspective, and a guess that the Switch will see a price drop and bundle by holiday, it’ll still have a way to go before challenging the 3DS.

The highly anticipated and advertised Super Mario Run only converted approximately 5% of it’s 78 million downloads—about 4 million paid transactions. For a fantastic game, 4 million feels below my assumed “core” Nintendo base numbers.

Needless to say, 78 million iOS-only downloads is a lot of Mario icons on pocket computers at one time or another. This fits nicely with Nintendo’s renewed focus of ”interacting with [Nintendo IP] every day.” And that’s just iOS. Android will see Super Mario Run in March this year.

Overall, Thomas Whitehead of Nintendo Life captured my feelings about the results quite nicely:

The most recent financial reports can fit whatever agenda you want. They can be construed as worrying and a sign of a company in difficult times, or interpreted as a demonstration of Nintendo’s strength and positive prospects. There are numbers to support both sides of the argument - the reality is that they represent a company still in transition, modernising its approach, utilising and boosting successes, while also dealing with mistakes and failures. The 3DS thrives, the Wii U dies, revenues come for an app in which Nintendo had limited involvement, and all of this with Switch and more mobile games to come.

I remain very positive about Nintendo’s future. Their IP and first-party games can’t be beat and are appearing everywhere, while the Switch seems like the “dream” console, pre-orders of which are already difficult to come by.

This is easy for me to say. I adore Nintendo. I can’t say the same for younger generations who grew up along side Minecraft rather than Mario. Is the new “Nintendo IP every day” strategy too little too late, or did Big-N hold out just long enough?

¹UPDATE: The 1,000+ number is a combination of all games de-duped by region and format. Seeing as the 3DS is region locked and a fairly slim amount of players would even attempt to play non-localized games, it’s not fair to say 1,000+ games.

Additionally, Polygon’s Brian Crecente stumbled across an interesting set of data in Nintendo’s earnings report:

Stuffed in amidst Nintendo’s quarterly earnings report was an interesting, updated look at the number of games released for every system going back to NIntendo’s first.

I grabbed the numbers, which are broken down into three regions for each platform, and built a little chart with them for easier comparison.

As Crecente mentions in his post, 85 games have already been announced for the unreleased Nintendo Switch— already over half of the Wii U’s US library. If the populous reclassifies the Switch as a handheld console which I imagine it will, the Switch has a big mountain to climb considering it’s home console development costs and Nintendo’s set-top game library trend.