Nintendo, Universal ink deal for themed rides. Mario karts, anyone?

7 May 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

Nintendo and Universal Parks announce partnership for Nintendo theme park attractions.

Nintendo announced Thursday that it has teamed up with Universal Parks and Resorts to create theme-park attractions based on Nintendo’s stable of memorable characters.First King Kong, now Donkey Kong is making news at Universal, where Nintendo announced today it is bringing its games and characters to Universal theme parks.

OSAKA, Japan—Nintendo Co. 7974 -2.54 % plans to bring videogame characters such as Mario the plumber to theme parks, in another step to expand into new areas to prop up its traditional console business. These will be the world’s first official theme park rides based on Nintendo properties, but Nintendo and Universal have not announced at which of Universal’s parks the attractions will be built nor what properties will actually be used. It caps off a week of big news for Universal, whose parent company Comcast reported big quarterly earnings this week thanks to theme park sales and Wednesday’s news that a mammoth King Kong attraction is coming to its Islands of Adventure theme park in Orlando next summer.

This partnership continues Nintendo’s trend of branching out from its console and handheld gaming-focused business model (and all the merchandise that comes along with it). Nintendo announced the deal Thursday after releasing better-than-expected earnings results, including its first annual operating profit in four years, helped by strong sales of games for the latest version of its hand-held 3DS games device and a weaker yen. Nintendo announced plans earlier this year to develop games for mobile platforms, and rumors suggested Nintendo was looking into a partnership with Netflix. While the company is back in the black on both a net and operating basis for now, the latest deal shows Nintendo is looking for new ways to shore up its business over the longer term by increasing the number of players who enjoy Nintendo games.

While those rumors were shot down, Nintedo’s response didn’t preclude the company from one day producing a television series based on their games. In March the company disclosed an agreement with a Japanese mobile-game provider, DeNA Co. 2432 -2.80 % , to cooperate in creating games with its characters for smartphones—a step it had long resisted—in another forward-looking move. “We’ve long been considering the theme-park business as a possibility provided we could find a good partner,” Nintendo Chief Executive Satoru Iwata said at a news conference.

Well, they’ve already got a blueprint in the Wii U game Nintendo Land, but the Nintendo universe is brimming with so many possibilities there’s no shortage of attractions to be built. CMCSA 0.94 % ’s NBCUniversal, was to maximize the use of Nintendo’s intellectual property, or game characters, and to attract new customers to the consoles and software, rather than to generate new revenue from licensing. Its net profit of $350 million (41.8 billion yen) was higher than its forecast $251 million (30 billion yen) profit and in line with analysts’ expectation. Unfortunately, as most of the Mushroom Kingdom’s characters only usually say their names or shout in panic or delight, it might be easy to become sick of hearing “It’s a-me, Mario!” hour after hour. The Kyoto-based company posted net income of ¥41.84 billion ($350.2 million) for the business year to March 31, compared with a consensus forecast for a ¥40.82 billion profit by analysts surveyed by Thomson Reuters and a loss of ¥23.22 billion a year earlier.

Nintendo said it sold 3.4 million Wii U systems and 8.7 million of its 3DS portable game systems, bringing total worldwide sales of those platforms to 9.5 million Wii U and 52 million 3DS devices. Still, the possibility of rides, games, and other attractions based Mario, Zelda, Star Fox, and more is an exiciting and long-awaited dream becoming reality for many Nintendo fans. Iwata said the company isn’t expecting Amiibo alone to be a strong revenue driver because the unit price is low compared with console and game-title prices. “In addition, a new source of revenue is expected from a gaming application for smart devices which will be released this year,” the company said in a written statement, in reference to the DeNA partnership.

To pique your imagination on the possibilities, remember that Universal Studios Hollywood has opened a new Despicable Me Minion Mayhem ride to add to its Transformers ride and Simpsons virtual roller coaster.

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