The company previously projected a profit of 55 billion yen ($527 million) for its fiscal year ending in March. But instead, it announced Friday it will sustain a 25 billion yen ($240 million) loss. Nintendo cut its annual Wii U sales forecast from 9 to 2.8 million units, Bloomberg reported, while 3DS sales have been cut from 18 to 13.5 million. The handheld was the best performing system across North America, Europe and Japan -- beating out both next gen consoles and the previous generation's offerings, but it has still failed to meet expectations.
The Wii U has, thus far, failed to gain any long-term traction. Nintendo was counting on strong consumer spending during the holidays to boost the flailing console's prospects. It released two first-party heavy hitters, "Pikmin 3" and "Super Mario 3D World," but both were met with general apathy. The mascot platformer managed to only sell 215,000 copies during its first month on sale in November, according to retail tracking group NPD. That is the lowest debut for any mainline "Mario" title. According to an IGN analysis, Sony's PlayStation 4 console sold more in six weeks on the market than the Wii U has since debuting November 2012. Microsoft's Xbox One isn't far behind, and should surpass the Wii U within the next two months.
During a press conference Friday in Osaka, Japan, Iwata told investors there will be changes coming, even though he will not step down.
"We are thinking about a new business structure,” he said. "Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling 'Mario' to move on a smartphone."
Iwata vowed in October to meet his ambitious forecast of 100 billion yen ($958 million) operating profit and 9 million Wii U sales. Pressure has continued to mount on the embattled president ever since the bottom fell out of the Wii market in 2010. Nintendo has lost 80 percent of its market value since the breakout console propelled the company to a record high 72,100 yen ($691.22) share value on the Japanese stock market. Iwata said Nintendo has to be resilient and not lose sight of what made it successful to begin with.
"We cannot continue a business without winning," he said. "We must take a skeptical approach whether we can still simply make game players, offer them in the same way as in the past for 20,000 yen or 30,000 yen, and sell titles for a couple of thousand yen each."