Raw Japan

Slices of Japanese business, politics and life

Game on!

November 1, 2009

Nintendo still expects to make $4 billion this year and Sony to lose over $600 million, but last week may ultimately be remembered as a crossroads where each firm’s fortunes began to change directions, or at least when a 15-year battle for gaming supremacy again became competitive.

 

Electronics conglomerate Sony trimmed its overall loss forecast on Friday, while some of last quarter’s bleeding was attributed to what is now seen as its successful price cut for the PlayStation 3 console, jolting the PS3 ahead of its Kyoto-based rival’s Wii in monthly sales.

Nintendo, meanwhile, saw profit and sales declining at its earnings on Thursday with the main panacea a bigger screen handheld DSi LL console coming in late November, a move industry-watchers say is certain to diversify consumers’ handheld options but by itself won’t counter growing ennu-Wii.

On Friday, shares of each underscored investors’ views on whether a shrinking loss or slowing profit was more attractive, with Sony bought before its statement and Nintendo sold after its numbers.

Still, Nintendo, which began as a cardmaker and may have a thing for trumps, held its analyst briefing Friday at the same hour as Sony’s earnings, debuting the DSi LL. This followed a Nintendo price cut in September at nearly the same hour as Sony Computer Entertainment CEO Kaz Hirai was addressing the Tokyo Game Show, an event the reigning game giant eschews.

Before an interview with Reuters that day, console war veteran Hirai laughed when asked about Nintendo’s cut, adding: “Interesting timing.”

Sony now has more than consoles on its plate in a battle to return to the black, but the hour is indeed  key and this year’s holiday push a game not to be missed.

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