Nintendo’s net profit jumps 48%

Revenue growth driven by Wii console

The booming videogame biz is paying dividends, as Japanese giant Nintendo and French publisher Ubisoft both reported huge growth in the fiscal year ended March 31.

Fueled by its red-hot Wii and DS consoles, Nintendo recorded a boffo 73% jump in revenue to an all-time high of ¥1.67 trillion ($16.2 billion) and a 48% rise in net profit, despite big exchange rate losses due to the strong yen.

Company sold 18.6 million units of the Wii, bringing the total since its November 2006 debut to 24.4 million. By comparison, Microsoft reported Thursday that it has sold just over 19 million units of its Xbox 360, which debuted a year earlier than the Wii. As of Jan. 1, Sony had sold just over 10 million PlayStation 3s.

Despite the natural slowdown in sales since the holiday, Wii consoles remain tough to find in U.S. stores. Nintendo of America topper Reggie Fils-Aimes told Wired.com this week that North America remains the only market with a short supply and that worldwide distribution is determined at the Japanese headquarters. “We are passionately upset about the lack of product relative to demand,” he said.

Company’s DS handheld remains its biggest seller, however. Nintendo sold an astounding 30.3 million units in the fiscal year, up from 23.6 million in the last fiscal year.

Only soft note was guidance, as Nintendo predicted modest revenue growth of just 8% for the current fiscal year to $17.5 billion, due in large part to the yen’s brutal exchange rate. Nintendo is still expecting substantial sales growth. Company forecasts that sales of Wii consoles will rise 34% to 25 million units in the current fiscal year, while software sales will skyrocket 48% to 177 million units. To keep up with the growing demand, the company plans to bump up Wii monthly production from 1.8 million units to 2.4 million units by summer. The sales target for the Nintendo DS lineup is 28 million units.

Ubisoft, meanwhile, reported a 34% jump in sales to E928 million ($1.32 billion). Its stealth action title “Rainbow Six Vegas 2” sold a healthy 2 million units since its March debut, while November release “Assassin’s Creed,” which sold 2.5 million units in its first month, reached a total of 6 million by the end of March.

In a conference call, Ubisoft topper Yves Guillemot reportedly said that “Assassin’s Creed,” which polarized critics, will be a franchise for the company, with sequels likely in the years to come.

Company also touted its casual “Games for Everyone” line, which saw sales triple to $326.13 million.

Not noted: March release “Lost: Via Domus.” Adaptation of the hit TV show was critically panned and likely sold quite poorly.

For the current fiscal year, Ubisoft is expecting sales to grow to $1.42 billion.

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