Nintendo Brings Their Characters to Universal Studios

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Nintendo has expanded its gaming network many times over the years, from their classic GameBoy handhelds to their motion detection Wii consoles. And now, Nintendo plans to bring their characters into the real world by forming a partnership with Universal Studios. Fan favorites like Mario and Bowser will be but a couple of the new featured attractions. The attractions, as according to the videogame corporation, will focus on a more immersive experience for the theme park attendees.

The deal brokered between Nintendo and Universal was officially announced on Thursday. The news followed right behind the release of the company’s outstanding quarterly earnings, which included their first annual profit in the past four years. The success is mainly attributed to the 3DS handheld and decreased yen values. And while the videogame company is back on track, the deal is a way for them to garner more long-term success by expanding the universal reach of their main products.

Other than their major deal with Universal, Nintendo has contacted and disclosed an agreement with DeNA Co., one of Japan’s top mobile-game developers. Nintendo had stubbornly refused to go down the route of using smartphones, but to move their company along, they are conforming to attract more customers.

Satoru Iwata, the Chief Executive for Nintendo said that they have considered the theme-park idea at length, but the right partner had to be found first. At that same conference, Iwata also said the partnership was to capitalize on their intellectual properties by having their characters at Universal Parks & Resorts, and Universal Studios is likely to profit from the new faces as well. Iwata believes their current situation is preferable to generating revenue from their usual licensing.

Thomson Reuters took a look at the Japanese gaming company’s released earnings, which were higher than what they expected. The posted net total was ¥41.84 billion, which translates to $350.2 million U.S. dollars. The expected sum was ¥40.82 billion. Reuters noted that the change in profit was impressive, as just a year ago, the company suffered a loss of over ¥20 billion.

Nintendo stated that their profits from the quarter were inflated when the value of yen dropped they still had stores of dollars and euros from their American and European sales. Other factors included the outside party software for their 3DS handheld (with bigger screens) and Wii U consoles, which brought in an additional ¥24.8 billion.

One of the company’s products that has been greatly sought after in the U.S. is the Amiibo product. The figures are set to be part of the videogames, but the demand for Amiibo toys are greater than the supply. Yet, despite the hauntingly stunning success, Iwata doubts that Amiibo sales will be much help to their overall revenue as they are sold relatively cheap compared to their consoles and brand name games like Mario Party.

That being the case, the company set an even higher expectation for their next quarterly report, stating they will profit ¥50 billion. Nintendo officials commented that they will be earning another additional revenue stream from their smartphone games. They intend to release their first one later on in 2015.

In the face of their new deal and slump-busting first quarter profits, some of the Nintendo products fell short of their previous records. The videogame tycoon reportedly sold nearly 9 million 3DS handhelds, which was their goal, and 3.38 million Wii U devices, which they hoped would top 3.6 million units.

The head of Japan’s BGC Partners, Amir Anvarzadeh, said that his firm has extremely high hopes for the company’s turnaround, believing that management is moving forward into the videogame industry. With Nintendo’s theme-park deal with Universal Studios, their app contract with DeNA Co., and their popular Amiibo character figurines, all of their bases seem to be covered.

By Matthew Austin Bowers

The Wall Street Journal

Photo by Chawawat Chans – Creativecommons Flickr License

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