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Nintendo posts annual loss as Wii U sales slow

Company sells 310,000 Wii U consoles in the fourth financial quarter

Nintendo swung to an annual net loss in the financial year ended March 31 2014 as Wii U sales continued to disappoint.

The company sold just 310,000 Wii U systems in the fourth financial quarter, compared to 450,000 units sold in the three months ended March 31 2013.

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The system launched in November 2012 and lifetime sales now stand at 6.17 million units, with just 2.72 million units sold in the year to March 31. Lifetime Wii U software sales total 32.28 million units, with 18.86 million units sold in the most recent financial year.

In comparison, Sony said earlier this month that PS4 sales topped seven million units between the system's launch in November 2013 and April 2014. Having also launched in November last year, Xbox One shipments of five million units were announced by Microsoft in mid-April.

3DS sales came in at 590,000 units during Nintendo's fourth financial quarter and 12.24 million units for the full year, taking lifetime sales to 43.33 million units. Annual software sales for the handheld totalled 67.89 million units, meaning lifetime sales now stand at 162.92 million units.

Nintendo posted full year revenue of 572 billion yen (£3.3 billion / $5.6 billion), down ten per cent year-over-year, and a net loss of 23.2 billion yen (£135 m / $229m), compared to a net profit of 7.1 billion yen (£41m / $70m) for the fiscal year ended March 31 2013.

The Kyoto-based company also reported an annual operating loss for the third consecutive year, ending up 46.4 billion yen (£269m / $457 million) in the red.

Nintendo said in a statement: "The net sales were lower than expected due to the fact that the sales units of the Nintendo 3DS hardware, and the Wii U hardware and software did not reach their expected levels.

"The operating loss increased from the forecast due to the increase in inventory write-down and research and development expenses compared with the forecasts in addition to the decrease of net sales."

Nintendo said today that it expects to sell 3.6 million Wii U consoles during the current financial year ending in March 2015. It also forecast 3DS sales of 12 million units during the 12 month period.

Additionally, the company said it hopes to "enrich the value" of the Wii U GamePad and as a result grow Wii U hardware sales by making more NFC and DS games playable on the system.

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