Tech

Nintendo just reported a wild 428% surge in profits thanks to the lockdown gaming boom

Key Points
  • Nintendo reported operating profit of 144.7 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in the April-June quarter, smashing analyst expectations.
  • Sales of the company's popular Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles grew around 167% to 5.68 million units in the quarter.
  • The firm has now sold 22.4 million copies of "Animal Crossing: New Horizons," surpassing sales of "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate."
A high school teacher plays Nintendo's Animal Crossing at home in Melbourne during the country's enforced coronavirus coronavirus lockdown.
William West | AFP via Getty Images

Nintendo's operating profits skyrocketed 428% in the fiscal first quarter, the company said Thursday, a wild jump that reflects just how much the video game industry has benefited from the coronavirus pandemic.

The Japanese gaming giant reported operating profit of 144.7 billion yen ($1.4 billion) in the April-June quarter, smashing analyst expectations and representing a massive climb from the 27.4 billion yen it posted in the year-ago quarter.

Net sales meanwhile came in at 358.1 billion yen, up an impressive 108% from the 172.1 billion yen Nintendo reported in the same period last year. Sales of the company's popular Nintendo Switch and Switch Lite consoles grew around 167% to 5.68 million units in the quarter.

Nintendo American depository receipts — which are used by U.S. investors to buy shares of foreign-listed companies — climbed 3% Thursday.

The numbers highlight the boom in demand for gaming during coronavirus lockdowns. Big game publishers like Activision Blizzard and Take-Two Interactive have reported solid results this week.

Nintendo in particular has gotten a boost from the pandemic. Its "Animal Crossing: New Horizons" title released in March quickly became a hit as players looked for a form of escapism while stuck indoors.

The company has now sold 22.4 million copies of the social simulation game, with units almost doubling from the previous quarter and surpassing sales of "Super Smash Bros. Ultimate" which was released in 2018. Digital sales of software climbed about 230% for Nintendo and accounted for about 56% of total software sales.

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Japanese peer Sony reported a 1% drop in profits in its first-quarter results earlier this week, also beating analyst expectations. Despite that decline, the company also got a boost from gaming, with game sales climbing 82% year-on-year to 91 million units. Of the total number of games sold, a record 74% were from digital downloads.

- CNBC's Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.