Nintendo misses annual sales target for 3DS games console

The Japanese video game maker slashed its target by 13 percent in January, but still came up short

Nintendo said Thursday it missed its annual sales target for the 3DS handheld game console, despite repeated promises from the company that price cuts and an armada of new software titles had helped the device recover after a slow start last year.

The Japanese game maker said it sold 13.53 million handsets in the fiscal year that ended in March, below its target for 14 million. That target was set just three months ago, when Nintendo lowered by 13 percent its original goal for the flagship device.

The company also booked a fiscal loss during the period, its first since 1981 when it began reporting group results.

Nintendo did sound a positive note for the current fiscal year, setting a target of 18.5 million units. The company has said it will also launch its next generation home console, the Wii U, during the period.

The 3DS, which launched in February of last year, is the successor to Nintendo's DS, the folding game console that is one of the most popular video game devices of all time. The newer console stumbled shortly after sales began, hurt by its lack of game software and tepid interest in its glasses-free 3D screen.

The company responded by slashing prices globally less than six months after launch and rolling out dozens of new games for the holiday season, measures President Satoru Iwata repeatedly said had buoyed sales. But the price cuts meant that Nintendo is selling the 3DS at a steep loss, and its bottom line has suffered, also weighed down by weakening interest in the Wii and the strong yen, which cuts into profits made abroad.

The company said that in the fiscal year through March it booked a net loss of ¥43.2 billion (US$533 million), as net sales slipped nearly 40 percent. For the current year, Nintendo expects to stay in the red for the first half through September, then recover and book a profit of ¥20 billion overall.

Iwata is scheduled to comment on the results Friday.

As with many Japanese firms, Nintendo's fiscal year runs from April through March.

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