Nintendo Slashes Wii U Forecast, Considering ‘New Business Structure’

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Mario better grab an invincibility star soon, because the news out of Nintendo HQ today is far from rosy. We knew Sony sold 4.2 million PS4 consoles and Microsoft unloaded more than 3 million Xbox One consoles in about six weeks. Today Nintendo said its annual Wii U forecast for sales — as in “over the course of 12 full months” — are likely to be in the neighborhood of 2.8 million.

Let that sink in for a minute. Then consider this: Nintendo’s original annual Wii U forecast for the period between April 2013 and March 2014 was 9 million consoles. And then this: Nintendo also cut its projections for software sales from 38 million to 19 million. And the icing on the koopa cake: Rather than make their originally forecast profit, Nintendo is now projecting an annual loss of $240 million.

That sound you hear is Mario needing a mushroom, invincibility star and a 1-up. Badly.

Nintendo did have the top-selling hardware during the holidays, according to the NPD Group, with the 3DS outperforming every other system. But even the multi-dimensional handheld couldn’t save the day, as Nintendo revised its 3DS sales forecast from 18 million units to 13.5 million.

Things are gloomy enough, in fact, that company president Satoru Iwata from saying Nintendo is exploring all options to return to profitability.

“We are thinking about a new business structure,” Iwata said at a press conference to discuss the company’s recent guidance. “Given the expansion of smart devices, we are naturally studying how smart devices can be used to grow the game-player business. It’s not as simple as enabling Mario to move on a smartphone.”

Nintendo could possibly look at making its game library available digitally, as Sony’s doing with PlayStation Now. Or it could embrace the mobile market (e.g. smartphones and tablets) by making its classic games available for non-proprietary hardware for the first time in company history.

Or maybe, just maybe, Nintendo could explore teaming with Sony or Microsoft to make some Nintendo titles exclusive to one of those manufacturer’s systems in the not-too-distant future. What do you think Nintendo should do here? Is it too early to panic, or has Iwata-san already done that by divulging they’re exploring new business models? Would an arrangement with Sony or Microsoft make sense, or would it involve more swallowing of pride than the once-proud company could endure? Sound off in the comments below.

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