Nintendo profits soar as people play games during pandemic

TOKYO (AP) — Nintendo Co. reported Monday that its profit for the first three fiscal quarters nearly doubled as people around the world stayed home for the pandemic and turned to playing games.

The Japanese video-game maker behind the Super Mario and Pokemon franchises said its April-December profit surged to 376.6 billion yen ($3.6 billion) from 196 billion yen the previous year.

Its nine-month sales jumped 37% to 1.4 trillion yen ($13 billion).

Kyoto-based Nintendo’s success has come on the back of the popularity of its Switch console, as well as game software like “Animal Crossing: New Horizons.”

Other Switch software enjoying healthy demand included “Mario Kart 8 Deluxe” and “Super Mario 3D All-Stars,” according to the company.

The October-December quarter is always crucial for Nintendo because of year-end holiday shopping.

Nintendo sold 24 million Switch consoles during the three quarters through December. It had sold 12.5 million Switch devices during the first two quarters of the fiscal year, and so sales nearly doubled in the latest quarter. The total numbers include the smaller Switch Lite console, as well as the regular Switch.

The latest numbers show Switch sales are still going strong, compared to the same period a year earlier, at 17.7 million units.

After this fourth year of holiday season Switch sales, cumulative sales total 74 million consoles, Nintendo said.

Nintendo expects a 400 billion yen ($3.8 billion) profit for the fiscal year through March 2021, up from 258.6 billion yen the previous fiscal year. It had earlier forecast a profit of 300 billion yen ($2.9 billion).

One COVID-19-related setback for Nintendo has been the delayed opening of its theme park in Japan called Super Nintendo World, built with Universal Studios.

It had been set to open Feb. 4, but Osaka, where it is located, is one of the urban areas under a state of emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, as cases surge in Japan this year.

Although the spread of COVID-19 infections has slammed many businesses, the game sector has, from the start, been a beneficiary, offering home entertainment and ways for people to connect remotely through online games.