Nintendo is expected to bounce back this year from their second unprofitable year in two decades in 2013, when the company lost about $193 million. Analysts have estimated that Nintendo's profits for 2014 could go as high as $306 million.
The expected turnaround for Nintendo would be a vindication for Satoru Iwata, the president of the gaming company, who decided to maintain the strategy of only selling games to Nintendo consoles and devices, instead of also selling them to tablets and smartphones.
Nintendo's bounce back from unprofitability can be largely attributed to the popularity of the new Super Smash Bros. fighting game and Mario Kart 8 racing game, which has Nintendo expecting sales of 3.6 million Wii U units for 2014. In addition, Nintendo expects to take in a massive $1 billion in sales of its Amiibo figurines from only within the United States.
The Amiibo figurines are Nintendo's entry into the "toys to life" category are able to appear within games as avatars, can level up as enemies are beaten and stages are completed, and can also lead the user to gain access to unlockable features. The Amiibo are shaped after popular characters within the Nintendo universe, and feature NFC technology that interacts with software on the Wii U and 3DS.
Sales for the Wii U struggled to take off upon its launch in 2012 due to a shortage of new games, while Sony's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft's Xbox One lured the "serious" gamers. There were only 23 games available in the United States for the Wii U upon its launch, with the release of new games coming slowly. Today, there are still only 53 titles available for the Wii U, compared to the 410 titles available to the Wii.
The success of Super Smash Bros. and Mario Kart 8, however, has analysts expecting for massive changes coming to the Wii U.
In the first three days of its release in the United States, 490,000 copies of Super Smash Bros. for the Wii U were sold, which is the fastest pace ever for a Wii U game. Mario Kart 8, meanwhile, has already sold 3.49 million copies since May this year, 2.74 million of which are from outside Japan.
A total of 7.6 million Wii units have been sold, compared to the 8.1 million Xbox One units and 15.1 million PlayStation 4 units. While the number for the Wii U may still increase in 2015 as the game lineup continues to develop, the console is rapidly approaching the end of its lifespan, which is typically five years for consoles. This means that the console may not be able to reach its lifetime goal of selling 101 million units.