Extra! Extra! Read All About It…Sort Of.

Alright, so that time of the year 2016 seems to be coming up on us rather quickly, as it seemed to have been taking forever, throughout the first 9-and-a-half months. Finally, we are coming up on the last quarterly report for the calendar year 2016 (which is the second quarter for Nintendo). And this time around, it seems that this will be an extremely important time period, as the announcement of Nintendo’s new and coming hardware is expected to be officially announced and revealed by the end of the Investor’s Briefing and Q&A next week.

Trusted Wall Street Journal reporter, Mr. Takashi Mochizuki, has written about his expectations for the Investor’s Briefing. In addition to the earnings report, the company is also expected to share their forecast projections, along with information regarding Pokémon Go, future Nintendo 3DS plans, Super Mario Run, and of course the Nintendo NX.

Mochizuki is reporting that Nintendo is expected to report both a net profit in earnings, as well as an operating profit!

The Kyoto-based company is expected to report a net profit of 18.5 billion yen ($178.5 million) and an operating profit of ¥3.2 billion yen, according to a median forecast of six analysts polled by data provider Quick. In the year-earlier quarter, Nintendo reported a profit of ¥3.2 billion and operating profit of ¥7.8 billion.

We are also expected to see more information regarding Pokémon Go and the Pokémon Go Plus accessory.

The second-quarter results will provide the first financial indications on the blockbuster smartphone app Pokémon Go. The game was developed by Nintendo affiliate Pokémon Co. and Niantic Inc., an Alphabet Inc. spinout in which Nintendo also invested. In July, Nintendo said it expected no major financial contribution from the game. Nintendo may also provide more fresh data, including sales of the game’s wearable device—Pokémon Go Plus—which Nintendo was in charge of making.

There may also be more on the Nintendo 3DS, as we are nearing the holiday season, and titles for the Wii U are no longer a viable financial topic for the company (aside from The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which has already been slated for simultaneous release on the NX, as well).

Nintendo is phasing out its flagship console Wii U to focus on the NX. As a result, its popular but aging hand-held 3DS game machine will be one of the company’s few weapons for the coming holiday season. Nintendo prepared many strong titles to boost sales of the 3DS, including a new Pokémon game, Super Mario Maker and Miitopia, which has been a bit of a mystery. Nintendo has promised to talk more about it by the end of the year.

Along with the above-mentioned topics, Nintendo is also expected to share information regarding the latest announced smartphone game, Super Mario Run.

Another partnership creation from its tie-up with smartphone game maker DeNA Co., Nintendo plans to release a Super Mario game for Apple Inc.’s iOS platform in December. Nintendo may announce additional information next week.

As more information is given, we will share it, regarding the NX, however, Takashi Mochizuki believes it is highly probable that we may not get any information this week, and it will all fall into next week, in and around the Investor Meeting. Emily Rogers, however, is adamantly expecting to there to be information given this week, as well as next week. Either way, the trees are rustling and the excitement is definitely building for whatever Nintendo is about to reveal to the public, finally!

Late night UPDATE:

So as we continue to get closer to knowing definitively what Nintendo is going to have for us, it’s time to switch our focus from rumors and speculation, to analysis and true anticipation. I am really excited to see what Nintendo has been cooking up in the lab, and I truly anticipate it to be fantastic! I have been a Nintendo fan since the earliest of their console days. When I first realized there would be a home console to play games like Super Mario Bros. that I had been playing in the arcades, I knew that the NES was exactly what I wanted when it was finally to be released, but until it was I read through the catalog I’d found it in, repeatedly. I imagined playing with the device for hours on-end, until it was released and I could do so, in reality. That is the type of excitement I get from Nintendo, and that is what I am getting from NX, now!

What do you think will be the most exciting (and unexpected) feature of NX for you? Do you plan to get it, no matter what, or do you plan to wait and see what it is, first? How long have you been a fan (or are you, yet) of Nintendo consoles?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


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Bombshells from the Financial Briefing

April 27 marked the date in which Nintendo shared their financial news with investors following the fiscal year ending March 31, 2016. During the briefing, however, we were finally made aware of some of the details regarding NX, officially.

For quite some time now, the rumor mills has run amok with leaks and reveals, and “confirmed” news; enough to suffocate the most casual observer. Nintendo finally shared a little information today, though, that answered some line ring questions, but also presented several new ones, as well.

A few key things to note from the briefing are the results and future plans for Nitendo’s mobile initiative, The Legend of Zelda game news, and of course, the Nintendo NX limited details. People have been clamoring for the inside track on this news for a while now, so it is good on the one hand that there is finally some information to hold onto as official verification, but the idea of concrete details has already invited the disappointed and quick-to-criticize crowd along for the ride.

cheodqbxeaqkm3aNintendo shared that Miitomo, the company’s first foray into the mobile app market, has delivered some highly encouraging numbers. There have been some promising results that are allowing Nintendo to realize their goals of expanding the reach of the or unique IP into the market even beyond their video game presence.

Along with these outstanding user numbers, Nintendo also has, to date, sparked more than 300 million conversations in Miitomo. In addition, users can insert their Mii characters into photos to create unique “Miifotos” that can be shared through various social media. As of now, more than 20 million Miifotos have been created. To celebrate Miitomo hitting 10 million users, Nintendo will run a special 10-day “Celebrating 10 Million Users!” promotion April 29-May 8.

In addition to the wonderful information given about Miitomo, we also learned that Nintendo will indeed be releasing two more mobile apps. These two apps will be game apps, as opposed to the communications/information app that Miitomo is. Of course, this information was already relayed previously, but it’s always good to have confirmation. The two apps that will be launching in the Fall of this year are Fire Emblem and Animal Crossing apps.

Nintendo plans to release both of these applications this fall. As for the former app, while making it more accessible in comparison to the Fire Emblem games for Nintendo’s dedicated gaming systems, Nintendo aims to offer the great value of a role-playing strategy game. Nintendo will design the latter game so that it will be connected with the world of Animal Crossing for dedicated gaming systems. By playing both Animal Crossing games, users will find increased enjoyment. Both of these are pure game applications.

Seeing their approach to these two apps,chdkvflu4aak7zi though both are games, will allow us to see how Nintendo is able to address seemingly opposing target audiences. From “core”-style gamers with Fire Emblem to “casual”-style gamers with Animal Crossing, we will be able to delight in their efforts, fairly soon.

Now, one of the most anticipated bits of information came in the form of a short statement, but within that statement lies a kernel of detail that is sure to spring forth countless discussions, speculation, and of course prognostication! Stay tuned for that.

As the first announcement of any NX information, Nintendo confirmed that NX is scheduled to launch in March 2017. NX will not make an appearance at the upcoming E3 video game trade show in Los Angeles in June and will be unveiled later this year.

After the NX bomb, we heard the first bit of information for quite some time about the newest installment in the long-awaited The Legend of Zelda. In addition to a “new” launch date, we also learned of the magnitude of its E3 presence, as well.

The latest installment in this classic franchise is scheduled to launch simultaneously for both Wii U and NX, and both versions of the game have been in development in tandem. Because developers need more time to polish the game, it will launch in 2017, but it will be the focus of Nintendo’s presence at E3.

Nintendo changes its approach to the show every year. This June, Nintendo will focus its attentions on the upcoming game in The Legend of Zelda franchise. The Wii U version of the game will be playable for the first time on the E3 show floor, and it will be the only playable game Nintendo presents at the show, in order to provide attendees a complete immersion. Additional information about Nintendo’s E3 plans will be announced in the future.

With this influx of news directly from Nintendo, we are fortunate to no longer have to speculate and guess about certain things. However, with these revelations, it somehow brings about seemingly more consternation from a vocal minority (who seems to be a majority, at times). Over the next few days, I will share my thoughts and predictions going forward and into E3. Today though, I will leave it at this: many people in this gaming community are in need of the skill of disciplining their disappointment. Far too often the act of allowing hype to rule their attitude is a best practice of the many. That’s a dangerous place to live. It causes people to go through emotional roller coasters that, frankly, are counter-productive. It seems strange to me, that when we take up the responsibility to be the bearers of new information to masses of people, we choose to be irresponsible in how we share it. I can appreciate differing views and even dissenting opinions, but it becomes irresponsible when we fly off the handle (so to speak) at every turn. Allow yourself to formulate sound thoughts using complete information, and it will certainly make for much less volatility in the delivery of information and the community. Think on it…

What were you able to glean from the information shared by Nintendo today? What are your thoughts on the success of Miitomo? What about the two new mobile apps coming in the Fall? Did you anticipate the NX launch being in March 2017, and what do you think about it?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


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The Investor Briefing Q&A Breakdown

Nintendo has finally released the English translation of the Q&A session of their recent Investor Briefing, and the nuggets of information were plentiful. Several questions were asked and answers were given. Among the answers were a few that truly stood out to me, personally, and I wanted to be sure to point them out, as they pertain to the heart of me as the gamer.

Instead of simply copying and pasting the entire session, I will grab the handful of exchanges that I feel are most representative of where the company stands and is also heading. Nintendo Co. President, Tatsumi Kimishima was able to shed light on a few things that many have been interested in, but of course, was unable to share anything regarding ‘NX’ or its development at the moment.

One such area that sheds a little light is the third question which pertains to the expected source of Nintendo-like profits that are to come in Fiscal Year (FY) 2016, which ends March 2017.

With regards to the financial performance, I believe you said that the fiscal year ending in March 2016 has been about balancing revenue and expenses, while the next fiscal year (ending in March 2017) will be a step towards aiming for Nintendo-like profits. Have these priorities changed at all? It seems like a lot of new endeavors, such as smart device business and amiibo sales, will need to go smoothly in order to realize Nintendo-like profits. If you had to provide one example of an area where you can be sure to achieve Nintendo-like profits, what would that be?

Kimishima:

The previous and current fiscal years have been a period of preparation to launch a number of new endeavors, such as NX development, development for smart devices and business using our character IP, in addition to driving our Wii U and Nintendo 3DS businesses. At the same time, it has been our priority to take a close look at areas of our existing business where the revenue and expenses had become unbalanced, and to make sure that we corrected this balance. As I have said before, we will be launching many of our new business activities as we move from this fiscal year into the next.

When you start any new business, it is important to make the public aware of what you will be doing. In the next fiscal year, we will have to make preparations and investments to achieve these goals, and that comes with certain costs.

The question was to pick one area with which we will be able to achieve Nintendo-like profits, but I would like to suggest two areas. One area is our NX business, and another is our business for smart devices. I believe that keeping these two endeavors on track will be key to achieving Nintendo-like profits. I don’t have any further details to share about the next fiscal year at this time, but we will explain about our plan and when we will aim to achieve Nintendo-like profits at a future date.

Kimishima-san’s response shines a light on several things with a single statement. He talked about the need for making investments to making the public aware of what the company will be doing throughout the new FY. The costs for that will be enough to ensure successful launches. He also suggested that there are two areas of focus for returning to Nintendo-like profits in the FY, being NX business, and smart device business. Understand, that FY ends March 2017, which all but states that we will indeed see not only the reveal of, but the release of the system before March 2017.

Also addressed was the recent consolidation of the handheld and home console hardware and software development divisions, and how that has begun to affect the company’s efficiency.

Nintendo has been working to restore balance between revenue and expenses and has announced a number of new ventures during this and last fiscal years in order to realize Nintendo-like profits from next fiscal year on. How would you evaluate your current progress on your plans, such as reorganization and business partnerships? What areas need improvement in the future?

Kimishima:

We have made a number of changes to our corporate structure to gear up for our new ventures. For example, (as I have described before,) where development was split between handheld and home console divisions in the past, we have unified these activities for both hardware and software development, and the exciting new ideas coming from development are evidence of the progress being made as a result of that unification. We are also making steady progress in working with our partners in a variety of businesses.

Of course, gaps in communication that may arise from reorganization could hinder plans that require timely execution. This is why our Corporate Planning Department is also implementing organizational reform that allows for precise understanding of progress across the whole company. The General Manager of the Corporate Planning Department has a lead role in this project.

To achieve Nintendo-like profits, one important factor will be establishing a solid launch for our NX and smart device businesses. I believe the key to doing this is to allocate our resources appropriately to proceed with hardware and software development on schedule and deliver our products to our consumers in a timely manner.

I believe what is most interesting in Kimishima-san’s response here is the reassurance that the unification of their development divisions is producing exciting new ideas, is working toward eliminating communication gaps, and helping to truly help in establishing a solid launch for both the NX and smart device businesses.

The next question and answer that was very striking was the sixth response wherein Kimishima-san was asked about strategic planning with both the older and younger generations.

When you became president, Mr. Kimishima, I believe you stated that you would be carrying on the existing strategies, but we also expect that you will bring your personal touch to Nintendo’s business strategy. Do you have a plan that you can share today, or do you intend to leave strategy to the younger generation? Are there any particular goals that you have set for yourself?

Kimishima:

As you said, when I became president, I stated that my role was to continue to proceed on the course that I helped to set with President Iwata and the rest of the management at that time. The ideas of our young employees are also key to our ability to transition to the next generation and to continue to produce exciting ideas. It is important to structure our organization so that these young people can take active roles. We have worked to establish such an organization; one that will allow our employees to reach their full potential in many different areas. It may be difficult to see from outside of the company, but we have made major changes to our organization. For example, our game developers have not had much of a public presence in the past, but we would like to create more and more opportunities for you to get to know them in the future.

As for business strategy, the hardware-software integrated business will remain the core of our game business, but we ensure that we will also expand this to include smart device activity and fuse these businesses into a synergistic whole. “My Nintendo” is a crucial part of this strategy as well. We seek to deepen our relationship with our consumers by having them join the “My Nintendo” program.

I would also like to touch on the QOL (Quality of Life) program today. We do not feel that we are currently at a stage where we can commercialize a product that deals with sleep and fatigue, so we are not planning to launch any products in this area in the fiscal year ending in March 2016. However, we do believe there is potential in the QOL sector, so we will continue to consider further development in this area.

With this last response, it was very apparent that Kimishima-san is intent on continuing the legacy that began with late Company President, Mr. Satoru Iwata. The many new facets of the business in conjunction with the main dedicated gaming device business are exciting and are sure to help bolster the company to Nintendo-like profits, for sure. I love the fact that the management group is keenly working to develop and further utilize the young developers. The same minds that created the smash-hit Splatoon are but a small sample of the group who will be seeing a bigger role in the company, going forward. Also, it will be even more exciting to have the opportunity to get to know more of the game devs from within the company. And of course, hearing how integral “My Nintendo” will be for the company moving into the future is encouraging beyond measure. A future-thinking Nintendo is an incredible force that I am happy to see on the horizon.

Some people have attempted to take the contents of this Q&A and see disparaging info, but those same people will continually share how others smartly remark that “you should never count Nintendo out!” Of course, I don’t subscribe to the naysayers’ mindset, so in the end, I am always looking for the good news in the story. Hope you will too.

How do you think Nintendo will fare in their pursuit of regaining Nintendo-like profits? Do you expect that “My Nintendo” will be an even bigger deal than was initially suspected? What excited you most about the information that was shared?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


 

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Investor Results Briefing Analysis…My Take

As the information flow from Nintendo’s recent Investor Financial Briefing has been quite steady and noteworthy, I decided to give a more in-depth analysis to hopefully keep you all well-informed. It is easy to run with the a lot of the earliest information that comes out via unofficial translations, but though many of those reports are harmless, some do need further clarification and even retraction at times. That is why sometimes I let a little time pass before posts like this one, so I appreciate your patience.

Now, as I went through the Results Briefing material I noticed several key points that really should be reiterated. In addition to the somewhat positive news in regards to the financial footing that the third fiscal quarter contributed to Nintendo, we also learned a bit about some of the company’s motivating desires and plans. The main theme is that Nintendo is actively working to expand the gaming community beyond simply repeat customers. They are continually trying to find ways to create new customers and lovers of games.

Female Customer ExpansionOne thing that Nintendo is making a concerted effort to do is reach more female gamers (most specifically in Japan) in order to continue to boost Nintendo 3DS sales in the region. The approach being used is quite interesting and has shown positive results.

Through these activities, such as setting up a female-dedicated web site called “Nintendo 3DS for girls” and holding events at shopping malls and other facilities, we have feedback that indicates we were able to attract a wider generation of female consumers who previously had no interest in games.

I do believe this is an aspect of the gaming environment that falls in the area that most observers severely overlook. Many of the things that the company has done as of late such as launching “New” hardware, and things of that nature were in order to reach that far-reaching demographic that was not already playing the games on offer. This however was not what the naysayers and doomsdayers saw. Supposed fans decried the company as stupid, out of touch, and stuck in their ways. Meanwhile, the audience they were targeting was indeed coming into the fold.

Every single game that Nintendo makes may very well not be your game of the year, but that does not mean it is not for someone else. That’s why it is severely irresponsible for influential outlets to cast their opinions onto others without taking into account the existence of differing tastes.

Another great thing to note from the briefing is the performance of Splatoon (and Super Mario Maker) in regards to bolstering Wii U sales, but also in expanding the landscape of the gaming community, much like the efforts to bolster the 3DS. Splatoon has been an incredibly stable seller for the company, and that has been, in part, due to the expansion of the market.

It has gradually expanded even among kids and female consumers, and we expect more popularity due to word-of-mouth. We can say a good cycle has been established for this title.

One aspect of the business that has done 31 Million amiiboextremely well virtually since inception is the amiibo line, both figure models and card-based. What is now a priority is finding ways to make sure that people are using the amiibo in fun ways beyond simply collecting them.

We will be proposing new ways of having fun with amiibo. The Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge present campaign started on January 28 in Japan. A ticket with a download code for Mini Mario & Friends: amiibo Challenge, which is download software playable on Wii U and Nintendo 3DS systems, is given out at stores for people who purchase figure-type amiibo.

We will continue to introduce new members of the amiibo lineup. We are also planning to release multiple new amiibo beyond the ones shown on this slide.

As the briefing moved into the new services coming soon and the first mobile app through the Nintendo/DeNA partnership, we saw more of the framework being laid to expand. The power of Nintendo’s original IP, old and new, is great beyond measure. That’s why the company is doing so many things to leverage that power. They feel the more they utilize their IP to bring more awareness to the brand, the more new (and many former) customers they can introduce to the games that brought them to life.

My Nintendo CharacteristicsThe Club Nintendo replacement service, My Nintendo, will be be yet another means for customers to gain even more of a connection to the company and their games. This comprehensive service will be available to everyone with a Nintendo Account, and will be active globally in March.

My Nintendo will offer services which make Nintendo’s game experiences even more fun and more convenient, and that provide enhanced value for members.
We are planning to provide similar services for the new entertainment experiences that Nintendo will offer beyond gaming in the future.

Several of the new services that will benefit the Nintendo Account members, such as the “Recommended for You” program, the “Just For You Offer” discounts, and “Birthday Special Discounts” were outlined and show a very strong effort by the company to allow the fans to have a continuous connection regardless of the device.

As the My Nintendo system is rolled out for customers, there will be several key aspects that should be noted.

As I have written before, Miitomo will be Nintendo’s first foray into the smart device app market, and one thing that truly needs to be relayed to many people still is this first app was only ever called a game by those who misinterpreted what Nintendo often shared prior to its initial reveal and immediately following. The understanding should have been that as had always been shared, Nintendo was looking into the best ways to use the platform to possibly enhance their dedicated gaming device business by funneling the mobile customers back to the hardware and software for home and portable!

In Miitomo, your “Mii” look-alike character appears as your “alternate self” within your smart device.
All of you must have had the enjoyable experience of being prompted by a friend to talk about something that you might not normally bring up in the course of your conversation. Mii characters facilitate this kind of social play structure with Miitomo.
Unlike most communication apps, with which you are supposed to proactively dispatch your message, in Miitomo, talkative Mii characters will automatically spark unique conversations and help friends connect on random, fun and light-hearted topics.

I believe you will experience a fresh new feeling with Miitomo.

Following the release of Miitomo, Nintendo/DeNA will be releasing another several Smart Device apps (some of which are sure to be games) featuring Nintendo’s very popular IP.

As we have previously discussed, we are aiming to further advance our “gaming population expansion” strategy and aim to “grow the population who have access to Nintendo IP (intellectual properties).” To achieve this goal, our increasing the number of My Nintendo members will be one of the most important missions.

Accordingly, after the release of Miitomo in March, we will steadily release game apps for smart devices.

App ReleasesFrom there the major focus will be on encouraging as many customers as possible to be create My Nintendo memberships. Driving that number to over 100 million users is the company’s initial milestone.

We would like to set “100 million My Nintendo members globally” as our initial milestone. Since this number should be considered as a check point, we will make efforts in order to achieve this number at the earliest possible timing.
We believe that the bigger the size of My Nintendo, the greater the enjoyment and value we will be able to provide to our customers.

So much encouraging information came from this briefing and having the opportunity to see a glimpse of the future initiatives that the company is implementing is fascinating to me. When a lot of these things begin to roll out, it will be very interesting to watch them grow and flourish.

Are you encouraged by the information from the Investor Presentation? Will you be signing up immediately for the Nintendo Account and My Nintendo? Will you be downloading and using Miitomo at launch, as well?

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


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Digging Through the Investor Briefing…

Tuesday afternoon, Japan time, Nintendo delivered their 2015 Q3 financial report for investors. During their briefing we learned a few new things about hard sales numbers, profits, losses, and more.

Some of the more important things we got from the briefing let us know how the company fared financially through the end of the the calendar year 2015. As the current generation has continued, the company has focused on generating more quality software to drive the hardware sales, and though the overall units movement saw a slight decline year-over-year for all hardware, Nintendo did experience an uptick in operating profits.

Wii U and 3DS Sales to DateAlso, in spite of the decline in hardware sales, the Wii U has now surpassed the 12.6 million units sold mark. Although that is nowhere near ideal for Nintendo, it should be noted that that is about 2 million more units since the last report was given. I have often given my opinions about the Wii U and its place in not only the current generation, but in the history of gaming hardware, period. That boost in Wii U units can be greatly attributed to the fact that brand new IP Splatoon has already sold more than 4 million units worldwide in the nine months or so that it has been on the market. That, in addition to the more than 3 million units of Super Mario Maker that have sold in the nearly 5 months that it has been on the market have greatly helped to boost the Wii U.

In addition to the continued success of Nintendo’s software, we also learned that amiibo have continued to surge in the market, now having sold in excess of 31 million units. These numbers, I am sure helped a lot, as well.

Though all of the financial news was not quite what Nintendo wanted it to be, it was still something to be excited about for investors, as they were not without their dividends (though, lower than their immediately previous payout). Nintendo fans and customers, though can rest assured that the company’s desire to expand, and support their current hardware with quality software in the immediate future, then later turn their attention to the NeXt generation when the time is right.

The subsequent Q&A session should be available to go through (in English) later today, so I will be diving into that for you shortly. So far though, as things are going, I believe Nintendo is steadily building upon their financial foundation that will surely help them to bring their incredible ideas to us in the most enjoyable manner possible.

As always, gaming is meant to be fun, so keep gaming!!


 

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