Nintendo expects to more than double software sales for Nintendo 3DS this fiscal year (ending March 2013), though it still faces challenges building momentum for the system in the West.
Software sales will be crucial in helping return the company to profitability this year. Selling 3DS hardware below cost played a significant part in Nintendo reporting its first annual losses in 30 years recently, and the company doesn't expect to make a profit on the handheld for several months.
"From this fiscal term, we will be in the harvest time for the software sales of the Nintendo 3DS," said Nintendo president and CEO Satoru Iwata during an investor briefing Friday morning.
Nintendo expects to sell 73 million copies of 3DS games around the world this fiscal year, compared to 36 million last year. That should offset expected declines in software sales for the original Nintendo DS (from 60 million units to 37 million).
The publisher's 3DS software sales forecast is more conservative than DS's third-year figures, mainly because "the momentum of the Nintendo 3DS overseas has not reached [its] anticipated level, unlike the domestic [Japanese] market," according to Iwata.
While 3DS hardware and software have dominated the sales charts in Japan for several months, the company admits it hasn't matched that success in the West. Nintendo says 3DS sales are "far below the level that it could potentially reach" in the U.S., and "far from a satisfactory level" in Europe.
Only six Nintendo platform titles appeared in the top 20 software sales chart for U.S. retail during the first quarter of 2012, a record low for Nintendo in many years. And the UK has the lowest sales out of all other regions for popular titles like Mario Kart 7 and Super Mario 3D Land. Iwata commented, "We need to promptly improve this situation."