Nintendo Says 3DS Has `Great’ Start With U.S. Sales of 440,000 in Week One

Nintendo Co., the world’s biggest maker of video-game consoles, said it sold almost 440,000 units of the 3DS handheld game player during its first week of U.S. sales in late March.

Combined with three older models, Nintendo sold 860,000 DS units in March, Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aime said, citing figures from industry tracker NPD Group Inc. A year ago, Nintendo sold 701,000 DS handhelds.

“We had a great start to the Nintendo 3DS, and portables overall had their best March in history,” Fils-Aime said yesterday in a phone interview.

Nintendo, unlike some Japanese manufacturers, has not faced supply constraints on its products following last month’s earthquake and tsunami in northern Japan, Fils-Aime said. Shipments of the $250 3DS, which plays 3-D images without the need for special glasses, haven’t been affected, and the company still plans to deliver a new Web browser and Netflix streaming before the end of the summer, he said.

The first week’s U.S. 3DS sales were less than analyst Haruka Mori at Barclays Capital expected, he wrote in a report today, without giving his estimate.

“Nintendo needs to expand its own 3DS software lineup and launch new software which is suitable for the 3Ds’s functionality,” said Mori, who rates the company’s stock “neutral.”

Nintendo advanced 0.4 percent to close at 20,670 yen in Osaka, while the benchmark Nikkei 225 Stock Average fell 0.7 percent. Nintendo shares have fallen 13 percent in 2011.

U.S. retail sales of video-game software and equipment fell 4 percent to $1.53 billion in March from a year earlier, NPD said in an e-mailed statement.

Nintendo’s “Pokemon Black” and “Pokemon White” dominated industry software sales of $735.4 million, selling more than 2.5 million copies in March.

Wii Sales Drop

The Kyoto, Japan-based company sold 290,000 Wii video-game consoles, down 48 percent from 558,000 units sold in the same period a year earlier. Michael Pachter, a video-game analyst at Wedbush Securities Inc. in Los Angeles, estimated that Nintendo would report 410,000 Wii sales in a report before the NPD data.

The Wii’s continued decline in sales has prompted some analyst speculation that Nintendo will announce a price cut, major update or new home console introduction for the annual E3 game expo in Los Angeles in June.

Online game site Game Informer said Nintendo will update the Wii to deliver games in high definition, citing sources it did not name. Fils-Aime declined to comment on the company’s plans for the Wii.

The 3DS player sold about 801,000 units in the first month following its debut in Japan on Feb. 26, according to Tokyo- based researcher Enterbrain Inc.

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 remained the top-selling game console for the month, NPD said. Sony Corp. (6758)’s PlayStation division saw double-digit growth across hardware and peripherals, PlayStation spokesman Patrick Seybold said in a statement. Sony did not reveal its unit sales.

To contact the reporter on this story: Cliff Edwards in San Francisco at cedwards28@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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