3DS sales momentum strong in Japan, but still weak in US and Europe, admits Nintendo CEO
Musings from 72nd annual shareholders' meeting
Nonetheless, the portable console's "momentum in the US and Europe is currently weak."
Speaking at Nintendo's 72nd Annual General Meeting the first since the company posted its first ever net loss back in April 2012 Iwata apologised to shareholders for Nintendo's "share price situation," and outlined how Nintendo hoped to return to profitability.
The road ahead
An important step in that process will be generating sales momentum for the 3DS. Iwata stressed that the DS achieved popularity in Japan two years before it set tills ringing in the US a pattern that may yet repeat itself with the 3DS.
However, he was candid in his assessment of the current situation.
"Considering that the US and European markets are larger than the Japanese market in terms of the size of the population, sales in the US and Europe are supposed to be larger," Iwata explained.
"At the year end of 2011 the sales momentum in those markets increased in the same way as in Japan; however, the sales pace went down after the beginning of 2012.
"As a result, the sales proportion of the Nintendo 3DS is now about 20% of the total video game sales in those markets. Thus, solid sales momentum has not been created."
The smartphone question
Iwata also touched briefly on the increased competition Nintendo now faces from smartphone gaming, although his comments didn't suggest any imminent change of strategy from Nintendo.
"Needless to say, because smartphones are spreading widely, the time has come when people do not have to buy video game hardware to play games that have certain appeal and have very inexpensive prices," Iwata said.
"In order for dedicated video game hardware to be needed continuously, it is necessary to provide games with fun elements unique to a certain videogame system which cannot be realized on smartphone devices. We would like to introduce such games one after another."
Nintendo is certainly aware of the threat posed by smartphones and tablets, then, but the company isn't shaking up its conservative business model in response.
Similarly, even though the Wii U's GamePad controller offers tablet-like online functionality, Nintendo's vision of media-sharing is still a family gathered around a television.
"There are currently many videos on the Internet, many of which are very interesting and suitable for family entertainment," Iwata explained to shareholders.
"You have seen them by PC, smartphones or tablets, but with the Wii U you can search a good movie on the Wii U GamePad, tell everyone there to see it and easily move it to the TV screen. In this way, a video-sharing website can be a great form of entertainment."