Here’s a quick look at the 3rd quarter reports for some of the big Japanese game companies for the financial year ending 31st March 2019.
Nintendo continues to exceed expectations, with net sales up 16.4%, operating profit up 40.6% and ordinary profit up 23.5%.
A good holiday season saw almost 15 million Switches sold this year, with Smash Ultimate selling 12 million and the Pokemon Let’s Go games selling 10 million. Smash Ultimate was the main driver of new Switch Online subscriptions, although many new subscribers chose shorter terms like single month subscriptions. No mention on how Nintendo Labo has been doing. Forecast Switch sales for the year were revised down to 17 million from 20 million, but that’s made up for by an increase in the software sales forecast which has been increased from 100 million to 110 million. There was no change in the full year sales and profit forecast. Switch software sales and digital downloads are both about double what they were last year. Nintendo also announced the opening of the first official Nintendo Store in Tokyo in fall 2019.
Bandai Namco saw sales up 9.4%, operating profit up 30.7% and ordinary profit up 30.6%.
During the quarter, Bandai set up 2 new companies: Bandai Namco Collectibles and Bandai Namco Contents Fund. Bamco is well on its way with their mid term strategy of exploiting IP. Their entire product timeline is now centered on an “IP worldview.” Toy sales are up 11.9% and profits up 66.3%, led by sales of collectibles and other merch aimed at adult audiences. Game sales are up 4.6% and profits up 7.6%, led by Dragonball Z and One Piece games. Idol Master was mentioned as doing well in Japan. In addition, setting up their own platforms and services like the Bandai Namco Store has given the company wider control. Soul Calibur release went “smoothly.” The amusement machine division is also up, with Gundam Extreme VS series leading the way in sales. Actual number of arcades in Japan is down, but sales are up 14.2%, profits up 147.1%. Movie and music division is led by Love Live and Idol Master. Sales up 20% and profits up 59.6%. IP creation division (anime division) reported Gundam and Love Live anime doing well so it seems Bamco are doubling down on the age old tactic of using anime production to develop ideas, see what sticks and then make money on the merch. Sales are up 18.8%, profits up 9%. Dragonball continues to be Bamco’s biggest earning IP. In fact, the only IP in their top ten earners which started as a video game was Aikatsu!
Sega is in a pinch with sales down 4%, operating profit down 53.5% and ordinary profit down 62.9%.
End year sales targets have been revised down about 20%, operating profit down by a third and ordinary profit halved. Investors will see a loss this year, although there will be no change in dividends. Entertainment contents saw sales up 5.2% but profit down 38.6%. Sega cited the mobile games market declining as well as increased development costs. In particular, Sega digital games division (mobile and online games) recorded a loss of 6 billion yen. Several services have shut down, and upcoming 12 new titles have been cut to 9. In addition, forecast profits from new titles have been cut. Top digital games were Phantasy Star Online 2, Puyo Puyo Quest, and Let’s Make a Pro Soccer Club To The World. Upcoming titles include Revolvers 8, Readyyy, and Wonder Gravity. Sega has pledged to better exploit their existing IP in future to turn their mobile games around. Traditional package game sales are slightly down from last year but profits are slightly up. Major titles this quarter were Judge Eyes and Football Manager 2019. The arcade division saw a slight increase driven mostly by prize machines. Upcoming arcade games include Chrono Regalia and WCCF Footista 2019 (another soccer game). The movie and toy division saw a slight boost from Detective Conan movies and other anime. They also released a new kids toy called Who Are You(Scruff a Luvs in English). The amusement machine division saw sales down 20.3% and profits down 36.7%. Japan’s new pachinko regulation was a major factor, and the division will undergo cost cutting. Resort business sales are up 8% but losses continue to extend.
Square Enix saw sales down 4.8%, operating profit down 65%, ordinary profit down 54%.
The Luminous Productions subsidiary lost 3.7 billion yen, due to an overhaul of its business strategy. Tomb Raider, Just Cause and Octopath Traveller actually all did well. Game sales are actually up, but promotion, marketing and increased development costs have brought margins down. The big issue though is the same problem as Sega. Their older mobile and online games have been declining and new titles are failing to keep the audience. Arcade sales are up 8.7% but profits down 42.8%. Part of that was from writing off assets when machines were upgraded. Publication arm saw sales up 20.4% and profits up 52.7%. Publication arm sales were mostly from game strategy guides and comics, but their MANGA UP! comic app did very well. Merchandise is down 11.9% and profits down 64.8%, mostly due to the previous year seeing many big releases.
Capcom saw sales up 28.3%, operating income up 92% and ordinary income up 90.7%.
Digital contents saw sales up 55.2% and profit up 144.3%.Monster Hunter World topped 11 million shipments, and the Iceborne expansion due for this year. The division saw increased sales from rereleases and digital sales, but mobile game income declined. Street Fighter 30th Anniversary collection and Megaman 11 also performed strongly, and Megaman rereleases did well. However, there has been an increase in development costs due to several titles being cancelled. Capcom is also looking at “various possibilities” for esports, including regional tourneys. Arcade operations saw sales up 5.9% and profit up 6.5%. Capcom is also changing up arcade scene to focus on family and a more diverse audience. Amusement machine division saw sales down 58.1% with a loss of 639 million yen. Again, this was due to new Japanese gambling machine regulation. Arcade machine sales are forecast to decline by more than 50% again next year. Monster Hunter and Mega Man hollywood films are on the way. For future reports, Resident Evil 2 and Devil May Cry 5 are expected to do well, with RE2 selling 3 million in its first week.
Konami saw sales up 7.8%, operating income up 2.4% and ordinary income up 2.8%.
Digital entertainment saw sales up 18% and profit up 8.5%. There is more YuGiOh stuff to come for the 20th anniversary. Winning Eleven 2019 continues to perform well, and an esports tournament was held for Jikkyou Powerful Pro Baseball. The amusement machine division saw sales down 8.2% and profit down 20.3%. The arcade scene is seeing demographics change. More families are visiting, and Bomber Girl (based on Bomberman) is doing well with its online battles. Seniors also coming in to play the medal games, and the industry as a whole is trying to make arcades more welcoming to a variety of audiences. Gaming and systems (gambling machines) saw sales up 62.% and profits up 14.6%. The gambling industry is growing, with more casinos around the world, and new skill based slot machines targeted at young people. Konami also trying to push their health and fitness division but sales are down 3.6% and profits down 15.8%. Konami plans to reach a greater audience by diversifying its games, so they’re gonna continue expanding YuGiOh, sports games, and they’re currently working on a new installment of dating sim Loveplus.
Arcade division wants to concentrate on experiences you can only get in an arcade, and move into esports as well.
Koei Tecmo saw sales up 11.5%, operating income up 24.9% and ordinary income up 0.5%.
Console software and mobile sales are doing well in spite of harsh economic conditions, and Koei’s results are the best they’ve ever had. They are also earning royalties from third party games using company IP, like Shin Sangokushi (New Romance of the Three Kingdoms). They are shifting their focus towards creating global IP. The European Gods in latest Orochi were part of their plan to expand the Warriors brand in the European market. Lots of collaborations. Daikoukai Jidai Origin was codeveloped with LINE Games, Shin Sangoku Musou Zan released by Nexon, Dragon Quest Builders 2 released by Square Enix. Also, Team Ninja working on Marvel Ultimate Alliance is only the beginning of what is planned to be a large scale collaboration with Marvel. Nioh Complete Edition and Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia did well in expanding the overseas market. No mention of how the VR arcade machines are doing. Gust’s Atelier Online broke 2.5 million downloads. Ruby Party held 5 fan events over the year, and the new Midas brand is developing a new mobile game.
So that’s most of the big Japanese company reports for this reporting season. General trend is that traditional game sales are up slightly, and arcades seem to be recovering and changing up their audience. On the other hand, mobile and online games have burnt out their player base and many games aren’t surviving unless they have a big name like Goku attached. Global market volatility means companies are bracing for unexpected conditions.
In the last year, almost every company has mentioned wanting to better exploit IP, so we’re likely going to see more franchise games and guest characters. In addition, profits are no longer Japan-centric, which means companies are starting to take a more global outlook.
Disclaimer: Kenny is just some dumb gamer with an interest in video game stocks. The information and opinions in this article do not represent the views of New Game Plus and do not constitute investment advice.