The news is getting better out of Kyoto, as Nintendo continues to make progress in sales after a disappointing couple of years. The company is doing some solid numbers with the new Amiibo line of toys as well as the New 3DS XL handheld console, according to reports. Coupled with a strong software lineup for this year, Nintendo’s got a positive outlook ahead.
Nintendo’s killer game line-up for 2014 (that included Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8) was not enough to boost Nintendo out of third place in the console wars, but at least profitability has been achieved. Nintendo continues its bounce back this year with strong sales of its new releases, namely its Amiibo interactive toys and the new version of its 3DS handheld, according to VentureBeat.
The new model of the 3DS XL, with a smoother 3D interface and secondary functions added, managed to sell out quickly, primarily the limited edition Legend of Zelda model. Nintendo reported that the system managed to sell over 175,000 units in America in its launch week, and just over 160,000 in Europe – a big increase from the 50,000 units that sold in each country for the original 3DS XL.
“At the end of last year, some video game enthusiasts who actively gather information on video games, held off on buying Nintendo 3DS hardware in anticipation of the New Nintendo 3DS launch,” said Satoru Iwata, Nintendo president and chief executive officer. “Thanks to these consumers and some highly anticipated titles being released simultaneously, we had a good launch despite it not being the usual sales season. Our next challenge is to keep this sales momentum.”
As for the Amiibos, a number of them are selling quite well, even to the point that hardcore collectors are paying top-dollar for ones that are sold out or out of print. Nintendo does have plans for second and third runs of certain figures, although others may just be replaced by cards to activate features in Super Smash Bros., amongst other games. (The company recently announced a special limited edition golden Mario Amiibo would be sold exclusively through Wal-Mart – and pre-orders are already long gone.)
As far as items selling out and not providing consumers enough means to buy these items, Iwata doesn’t see it as a problem. “I don’t think Nintendo views it as a bad thing that certain items sell out,” he said. “I’ve sat down with several Nintendo executives over the years who’ve said in passing that this or that is currently sold out, and they say it with a twinkle in their eye rather than with contrition.”
He did state that Amiibo sales were quite impressive. “We had already shipped 5.7 million Amiibo units worldwide by the end of last year,” he said. “Amiibos are performing especially well in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. Some figures are sold out and are being sold at online auctions at premium prices — something which none of us had predicted.”
Selling out of items is nothing new for the company, as its original Wii was tough to find when it launched years ago. “In the heyday of the Wii and DS, I think more of the sold-out systems and games were genuinely due to an underestimation of demand coupled with the occasional manufacturing and supply chain hiccups,” said IDC research director Lewis Ward. “In 2014 and 2015, I suspect that Nintendo is simply trying to minimize the slack in its supply chain.”
As far as Nintendo taking its time restocking items, “I don’t think Nintendo purposefully lowballs sales — leaving customers and retailers unhappy and money on the table,” said Ward. “I think they’re doing their best to model demand and it just so happens that there are surprises here and there.
“It’s part of managing the books as carefully as possible in a challenging competitive environment. But I don’t think they mind being sold out at retail every now and then since it does create ‘free’ media buzz.”
Whatever the case, Nintendo is enjoying this turn-around – and sales of the Wii U should pick up between unique titles like Splatoon, The Legend of Zelda and StarFox, among other games.