Nintendo posts first annual profit in four years; signs theme park deal with Universal Studios

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Struggling Japanese video game maker Nintendo finally has a reason to celebrate. The video game maker on Thursday reported its first annual operating profit in four years, beating its own as well as analysts forecast.

The Super Mario creator reported a net profit of 41.8 billion yen (£230 million) and an operating profit of 24.8 billion yen (£137 million) for the fiscal year ending March.

Revenue in the latest period slipped 3.8 percent to 549.8 billion yen, it said, as the company was hit by weaker demand for its 3DS portable games console. On the other hand, stronger Wii U sales, which shifted 3.38 million units against 2.72 million units in the year-earlier period, benefited the video game maker.

Sales of game software rose nearly 30 percent. Pokemon Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire sold 9.94m units while Super Smash Bros on 3DS shifted 6.75m units. Tomodachi Life, Mario Kart 7 and The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask also all passed the 2m sales mark. On Wii U Mario Kart 8 and Super Smash Bros sold 5.11m and 3.65m units respectively.

Nintendo is expecting the turnaround to continue even in the next fiscal year. For the fiscal year through March 2016, the video game maker is expecting the profit to climb to 35 billion yen ($293 million), up 16 percent from the fiscal year ended March this year, as Pokemon characters and Luigi the plumber lands on smartphones and tablets.

“A new source of revenue is expected from a gaming application for smart devices which will be released this year,” Nintendo said in a statement.

Annual sales are projected to rise nearly 4 percent to 570 billion yen ($4.8 billion). Nintendo is expecting to sell 3.4 million Wii U units for the fiscal year through March 2016, more than the 3.38 million sold for the fiscal year ended March 2015.

In related news, Nintendo has teamed up with Universal Parks & Resorts to bring “spectacular, dedicated experiences based on Nintendo’s wildly popular games, characters and worlds” to the Universal theme parks.

“The immersive experiences will include major attractions at Universal’s theme parks and will feature Nintendo’s most famous characters and games,” Nintendo’s press release states.

“More details will be announced in the future, as the Nintendo and Universal creative teams work to create specific concepts.”