Nintendo’s losses grow, slashes forecast

TOKYO (AP) ? Japanese game maker Nintendo Co. said Thursday its net loss grew to 70.3 billion yen ($925 million) for the six months through September, battered by the strong yen and weak software sales.

The maker of the Wii game console and DS handheld slashed its forecast for the full year through next March to a 20 billion yen ($263 million) net loss, it said in a statement. In July, it had predicted an annual net profit of 20 billion yen.

Nintendo, which scored success by courting casual gamers, is now battling increased competition from Apple Inc.’s iPhone and other devices that offer simple games.

Competition in portable gaming is also heating up with the anticipated arrival of rival Sony Corp.’s latest portable offering, PlayStation Vita. Vita goes on sale in Japan on Dec. 17, and early next year in the U.S. and Europe.

The strong yen has also dealt a heavy blow to the company, which receives nearly 80 percent of its sales overseas. Nintendo said exchange rate losses totaled 52.4 billion yen ($689 million).

Overall sales during the half-year tumbled 41 percent to 215.7 billion yen. And the half-year loss was twice as big a loss as the company had projected in July. During the same period last year, it had a net loss of 2 billion yen.

Nintendo’s 3DS handheld, which offers 3D gaming without special glasses, has been a relative disappointment since it went on sale in February in Japan and in March overseas.

The company is fighting to win back customers ahead of the critical year-end shopping season, cutting the price of the 3DS, and is coming out with more games, including 3D versions of its trademark Super Mario games.

The price reduction has lifted 3DS sales, the company said Thursday. For the six months, it sold 3.07 million units of the 3DS, and 8.13 million units of software.

One title, “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time 3D,” sold more than a million units, but the company acknowledged that the 3DS “has yet to have many hit titles.”

Sales of its regular DS handheld for the half-year fell to 2.58 million units from 6.69 million the same period a year ago. Sales of Nintendo DS software declined to 28.99 million units during the six-month period from 54.84 million last year.

As for its Wii game console, sales for the period fell to 3.35 million units from 4.97 million units last year, while software sales declined to 36.45 million units from 65.21 million a year earlier.