Nintendo cuts sales target for the Switch and delays Mario Kart game for smartphones

  • Nintendo expects Switch sales to come in at 17 million units for the current fiscal year.
  • The firm has shipped more than 30 million Switch units since the product's 2017 launch.
  • Nintendo says the release of its mobile Mario Kart game will be postponed to the summer.
Attendees wait in line to play video games on Nintendo Switch game consoles during the new console's unveiling in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2017.
Kiyoshi Ota | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Attendees wait in line to play video games on Nintendo Switch game consoles during the new console's unveiling in Tokyo on Jan. 13, 2017.

Nintendo is less optimistic about how many of Switch units it will manage to sell by the end of the fiscal year.

The company said in its earnings report Thursday that it posted a better-than-expected quarterly profit of 158.6 billion yen ($1.46 billion), beating an estimated 149 billion yen, according to Reuters.

But the firm says it now expects sales of its Switch console to come in at 17 million units for the fiscal year ending March 2019. That's down from a previously forecast 20 million units.

The Switch, a hybrid console that can be played on the move or connected to a TV, has been a big revenue driver for Nintendo since its release. The firm has shipped more than 30 million Switch units since the product's March 2017 launch.

Nintendo has still had an impressive fiscal year so far when it comes to Switch sales though, having sold almost 14.5 million units in the nine months ending December 2018. Software has played an increasingly significant role in the device's success — Nintendo expects to have sold 11,000 Switch software units by the end of the current fiscal year.

Guilherme Fernandes, market consultant at gaming research firm Newzoo, said the revision to Nintendo's Switch sales forecast was likely the result of a "comparatively weaker portfolio" of game titles in the fourth fiscal quarter and the fact that the "more core Nintendo fanbase" was likely to have already bought the console.

"The combination of a poorer portfolio of releases, combined with the fact that many of the potential customers already have a device, forced the company to cut back on its initially quite ambitious prediction of Switch units sold in the fiscal year ending in March 2019," Fernandes said.

'Mario Kart Tour' delayed

Another piece of news tucked away in the Japanese gaming giant's financials surrounds its highly-anticipated Mario Kart game for smartphones.

Titled "Mario Kart Tour," the newest entry to the Mario Kart franchise was initially expected to be released before the end of March 2019. The firm now says the mobile title won't be launched until the summer.

The firm said Thursday that the delay had to be made "in order to improve quality of the application and expand the content offerings after launch." The latter point hints that there may be add-ons for the game after it's released.

"As we endeavor to develop future planned applications, we will also focus on continued service operations for applications that have already been released so that consumers can enjoy playing them for a long time," Nintendo said.

Nintendo's Super Mario Run, for example, was a free mobile game based on the Super Mario franchise that required users to pay for additional levels. The move got a mixed reaction from players, with only a small portion of gamers opting for the pay-to-play option.