Credit: JD Hancock/Flickr

It's crunch time for Nintendo as it faces threat from the new Apple TV

The world's largest games firm has not only lost a visionary boss, it must now grapple with unstoppable Apple.

by Andrew Saunders
Last Updated: 23 Dec 2015

Formative years

Generations of modern kids grew up playing Tetris and Super Mario Bros on the Gameboy and DS, but Japanese video games major Nintendo predates the digital age by a good century or so. It started in Kyoto producing handmade Hanafuda playing cards in 1889, before turning to the video games market in the 1970s and becoming an $85bn corporation - Japan's third largest - in the process. Who knew?

Recent history

Nintendo's flagship 2006 console, the Wii, sold over 100m units. Up against the Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox, Nintendo majored on family-friendly games, which appealed to a wider audience. Think Donkey Kong, Mario Kart and Wii Fit. But its successor the Wii U has been an unmitigated flop, shifting only 10m units since its 2012 launch. That same year, Nintendo made its first-ever loss of $530m. Q1 2015 saw it back in the black thanks to Splatoon, its first hit game in ages, but only to the tune of a modest $67m.

Who's the boss?

Charismatic company president Satoru Iwata - the father of the Wii and gaming legend - died of cancer in July. He has just been replaced by 65-year-old Tatsumi Kimishima, an ultra-low profile ex-head of HR. How he will himself be remembered depends on the success of Nintendo's next big push, into 'casual gaming' for smartphones and tablets.

The secret formula

Nintendo has form in mobiles - its early successes were all handheld games. But things have moved on since the days when a pair of pixellated Italian plumbers conquered the world in the 90s and it will be a struggle to break back into the market.

Don't mention

Apple TV. Last month the category-killers from Cupertino unveiled a new sub-$200 game box with a Wii-like motion controller aimed squarely at Nintendo. These days no one wants to have to compete with the apparently invincible Tim Cook and his crew.


Employees: 5,200
Revenues: 571.7bn yen ($5.6bn)

Net loss: 23.2bn yen ($228m)
Figures: 2014 financial year

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