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Nintendo Pins Hopes on Smartphone Games and New Console to Boost Profits

This story originally appeared on Reuters

Japan's Nintendo Co. Ltd. said on Wednesday it expects operating profit to rise 36.9 percent in the year through March 2017, as the videogame maker plans to release more smartphone games as well as its next-generation game console.

Reuters | Thomas Peter

Nintendo estimates operating profit to grow to 45 billion yen ($404.9 million) from 32.9 billion yen a year prior, when earnings were roughly in line with a forecast announced in February.

Nintendo last year said it would enter the rapidly growing mobile gaming segment after years of resisting investor calls for the move, with consumers starting to shift from dedicated consoles to simple and often free-to-download smartphone games.

Its first mobile title launched in March, Miitomo, was more of a social networking application, leaving investors and fans awaiting games based on bestselling franchises such as Super Mario Bros.

The company has promised four more smartphone games this business year. At an earnings briefing on Wednesday, President Tatsumi Kimishima said it will release two "by this autumn".

To boost its struggling game console business, Kimishima also said Nintendo would release its next console globally in March 2017. The company has disclosed few details of the console beyond its codename, NX.

Sales of its current Wii U console have lagged those of Sony Corp's PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Corp's Xbox 360.

Nintendo forecasts Wii U sales at 800,000 units this business year, from 3.26 million units in the previous year.

Kimishima said the company could cease production of the Wii U by March 2018.

(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki and Yoshiyasu Shida; Editing by Christopher Cushing