Nintendo blames earning plunge on weak Wii sales

Slumping console sales and a cut in the Wii price tag have combined to send Nintendo's fortunes into steep decline.

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On Thursday Nintendo reported a profit of only 69.5 billion yen – approximately $767 million, according to the arithmetic over at CNET – for the most recent six-month fiscal period.

How bad are things for Nintendo? Pretty bad. Consider this: during the same six-month period last year, Nintendo raked in 144.83 billion yen, more than double the 2009 figure.

Nintendo said the plunge could be attributed to a drop in sales of the Wii – a console which had buoyed Nintendo's fortunes since its 2006 release. Nintendo sold 5.75 million Wii machines globally during the first half of 2009, down from 10 million in 2008.

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According to the tracking firm NPD, total video game industry sales have fallen 16 percent to $908.72 million in the past year. And even the Wii, which long trounced rival consoles from Microsoft and Sony, is apparently not immune to the market pressures.

In dropping the price on the Wii, Nintendo hoped to counter similar moves by its rivals. In August, Microsoft Corp. announced it would slash the price of the high-end Xbox 360 console by $100, mirroring a $100 cut for Sony’s PlayStation 3 last week. (The PS3 and the Xbox360 Elite now both cost $299; the regular Xbox comes in at $199.)

Cammie Dunaway, Nintendo of America’s executive vice president of Sales & Marketing, wrote in a statement in September that the Wii price drop could bring in a fresh swath of casual gamers.

Meanwhile, Nintendo has ratcheted up its game selection. Among the most recent titles is “Wii Fit Plus," which allows you to weigh your family pet, and track Rover’s fitness level alongside yours.

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