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'Mario Kart 8' fails to stem growing Nintendo losses

'Mario Kart 8' fails to stem growing Nintendo losses


2.82 million copies sold, but most to existing Wii U owners

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Nintendo made an operating loss of ¥9.47 billion ($92.7 million) in its first quarter of 2014, with the launch of Mario Kart 8 sparking a bump in Wii U hardware sales that wasn't big enough to boost the company's financial performance. Wii U sales were 510,000 between April and June, a year-on-year jump of 219 percent, as Mario Kart 8 itself moved 2.82 million copies — over half of all Wii U titles for the quarter, and enough to make it the console's third best-selling game of all time. This means that over 80 percent of people who bought Mario Kart 8 were existing Wii U owners before this quarter, so it hasn't yet convinced many newcomers to pick up the console.

Revenue was ¥74.7 billion ($731 million), an 8.4 percent decrease on the same period last year, for an overall net loss of ¥9.92 billion ($97.1 million). The 3DS handheld continued its decline, selling 820,000 units over the quarter compared to 1.4 million a year ago. Nintendo hasn't altered its forecast of a ¥40 billion operating profit for fiscal 2014, and still predicts that it will sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles during the period.

Nintendo came out of June's E3 conference with a lot of goodwill; the company announced exciting titles like Splatoon, Mario Maker, and The Legend of Zelda for Wii U during a quirky online broadcast, and creative talisman Shigeru Miyamoto showed off experimental prototypes including a new Star Fox game. And with the likes of Mario Kart 8 and Shovel Knight receiving universal acclaim, the Wii U looks a lot more like a console worth owning than it did a year ago.

Nintendo doesn't have much for 2014 beside 'Smash Bros'

But beside Super Smash Bros. for 3DS and Wii U, Nintendo doesn't have much in the way of heavyweight releases for the rest of 2014. Hyrule Warriors, a Zelda-themed entry in the Dynasty Warriors franchise, goes on sale in Japan next month, but the Warriors series has never been a big hit outside its homeland.

Nintendo's biggest other releases for the rest of the year are Captain Toad: Treasure Tracker, a 3D puzzle game based on the special stages from Super Mario 3D World, and Bayonetta 2, a hardcore action title developed by Platinum Games. Both look like solid releases at this stage, but neither is likely to be a sales success. Nintendo is launching its NFC-powered Amiibo figurines too, however, which the company will hope prove as popular as Activision's similar, successful Skylanders franchise.