Nintendo counting on forays beyond video games to boost fans

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Nintendo hopes to leverage a new Super Mario movie, various merchandising and theme parks to draw more people into playing its video games, President Shuntaro Furukawa said Wednesday.

Nintendo content, including Donkey Kong and Pokemon, has drawn fans over more than four decades, with parents and grandparents now playing games with children. But the intellectual property now extends beyond games, Furukawa told reporters and investors in an online presentation.

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Among the key efforts for what he called "building a relationship" with game lovers was "The Super Mario Bros. Movie," set to be released in April next year. There are also theme parks like the one that opened in Japan’s Universal Studios more than a year ago featuring restaurants, merchandising and rides, said Furukawa. A Nintendo theme park is set to open early next year in Hollywood in the U.S.

A man walks by in front of poster of Nintendo in Tokyo in Dec. 2019. Japanese video game maker Nintendo announced Thursday that its fiscal half profit dropped 19% from the previous year, which had gotten a big lift as people stuck at home for the cor (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara / AP Newsroom)

Special events, pop-up stores and mobile applications also help draw players, according to Nintendo. Nintendo’s mobile downloads now total 800 million in more than 160 nations and regions around the world. Merchandising includes collaborations with other companies like Lego.

"We want all those who have supported us over so many years to lead to more players," said Furukawa.

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Furukawa’s comments come a day after Kyoto-based Nintendo Co. raised its profit forecast for the April-March fiscal year to 400 billion yen ($2.7 billion), from an earlier 340 billion yen ($2.3 billion) profit.

People stand in front of Nintendo’s logo in Tokyo, Japan January 13, 2017. (REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon / Reuters)

High-performing game software included "Splatoon 3," "Nintendo Switch Sports" and "Mario Strikers: Battle League."

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The coronavirus pandemic has worked as a plus for some entertainment companies, as people tended to shun going out and turned to games, films and other at-home activities.

Nintendo Switch video games on display inside Nintendo Tokyo store in Shibuya.  (Stanislav Kogiku/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images / Getty Images)

Japanese exporters like Nintendo are also getting a boost from a weaker yen, which lifts the value of their overseas earnings when translated into yen. The U.S. dollar, trading at about 110 Japanese yen a year ago, is now at nearly 150 yen.

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But Nintendo has been hurt by a shortages of computer chips and other components caused by COVID-19-related lockdowns and other supply disruptions. Nintendo Switch sales fell 19% on-year in the fiscal first half to 6.68 million units.

Nintendo’s profit totaled 230.45 billion yen ($1.6 billion) for the six months through September, up 34% from the previous year.

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