Wii U sales slow to a crawl as Nintendo posts $457 million loss

Nintendo blames slow Wii U sales for huge losses, with just 2.72 million units sold over the last 12 months.

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Nintendo has posted a 46.4 billion yen ($457 million) loss for its fiscal year ending March 31, making it a third year of annual losses in a row for the beleaguered company.

The Wii U--which Nintendo revised sales estimates down from 9 million to 2.8 million back in January--sold just 2.72 million units over the last 12 months. Lifetime sales stand at 6.17 million units.

This stands in stark contrast to Sony's PlayStation 4, which--despite only being on the market just over six months compared to the Wii U's 18--has sold over 7 million units.

"The Wii U hardware still has a negative impact on Nintendo’s profits owing mainly to its markdown in the United States and Europe," Nintendo said in its financial statement, "and unit sales of software, which has high profit margins, did not grow sufficiently."

Super Mario 3D World, New Super Mario Bros. U, and New Super Luigi U, were all cited as million-seller titles, but software sales reached only 18.86 million units overall. That's less than software for the original Wii, which reached 26.16 million units over the fiscal year.

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Things were slightly rosier for the 3DS (3DS, 3DS XL and 2DS), which continues to buoy up Nintendo's financials. Hardware sales reached 12.24 million, and software 67.89 million. Lifetime sales for the 3DS now stand at an impressive 43 million units.

Pokemon X/Y proved to the be the most popular 3DS game of the year, selling 12.26 million, while Animal Crossing: New Leaf had a similarly impressive showing with cumulative sales of 7.66 million. Luigi’s Mansion: Dark Moon, The Legend of Zelda: A Link Between Worlds, and Mario & Luigi: Dream Team sold more than two million units during the year.

Despite such slow growth for the Wii U, Nintendo remains surprisingly optimistic about its future, forecasting an operating profit of 40 billion yen ($394 million) for the year ending March 2015. It also expects to increase Wii U sales in the year ahead, but not by much. The company is forecasting 3.6m in Wii U sales for the year ending March 31st 2015. It expects 3DS sales to decline slightly to 12m units.

How Nintendo is going to pull it off remains to be seen. The company continues to push its focus on the unique features of the Wii U GamePad, including its built-in functionality as an NFC reader/writer, as a key driver of sales. It also hopes the addition of Nintendo DS Virtual Console titles to the Wii U, and the upcoming release of Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros. will drive sales.

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