Konami profits fall 94%

Japanese publisher ekes out $3.83 million in net income during recession-wracked, MGS4-less quarter.

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Given the state of the global economy this year, many publishers are having a hard time living up to the sales figures of yesteryear. Konami's challenge is doubly difficult, as the publisher not only has to compete with general economic malaise but also last year's massive Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots launch.

Those players covering their sensitive bits represent Konami's investors, while the soccer ball is a metaphor for a quarter without Metal Gear.
Those players covering their sensitive bits represent Konami's investors, while the soccer ball is a metaphor for a quarter without Metal Gear.

Konami today announced results for its first fiscal quarter (three months ending June 30), and they were predictably down. Across its gaming, arcade, health club, slot machine, and other businesses, the company posted revenues of ¥55.98 billion ($585 million), down 21 percent year-over-year. Konami still managed to turn a net profit for the quarter, but the reported ¥367 million ($3.83 million) represented a precipitous 94 percent drop from the prior year period.

In the digital entertainment division--which includes software, arcade units, and collectible trading cards like the Yu-Gi-Oh series--sales were down more than 45 percent year-over-year, falling from ¥44.85 billion ($469 million) to ¥24.6 billion ($257 million). The publisher's biggest game releases for the quarter were the latest edition of its Power Pro Major League 2009 baseball series, as well as Winning Eleven Playmaker 2009 for the Wii (from the franchise known as Pro Evolution Soccer internationally).

Konami's best-selling genres were soccer (860,000 sold), games based on animated TV shows (300,000 sold) and baseball games (240,000 sold). By comparison, the publisher sold 3.94 million Metal Gear games worldwide in last year's fiscal first quarter; this year's number was 160,000.

Konami's sinking numbers can't be entirely pinned on Metal Gear Solid 4. The publisher's sales are also down sharply from the same quarter in 2007, when it brought in ¥60.65 billion ($634 million) on the strength of its baseball and soccer games, bolstered by strong sales of Elebits and Metal Gear Solid Portable Ops.

Looking forward, the company said it "will place particular focus on the development of animated games and original games in addition to sports and music games, which are Konami’s strengths." Specifically, the publisher name checked the Pro Evolution Soccer and Dance Dance Revolution series. It also said it would be focusing more on marketing downloadable games for consoles.

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