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Pokémon Go props up lackluster quarter for Nintendo

Sales go way down as Switch approaches, but don’t expect more info on that yet

Pokemon Go icon on an iPhone home screen

Nintendo posted its earnings over the last six months today, reporting losses across the board as Wii U and Nintendo 3DS sales continue to decline. Despite overall sales figures heading south through the end of September, the success of Pokémon Go — and the company’s recent sale of its stake in the Seattle Mariners — helped Nintendo still turn a solid profit.

Its longstanding relationship with The Pokémon Company, which found huge success with July’s launch of Pokémon Go, helped Nintendo garner an additional 12 billion yen (about $115 million) in profit. That’s just from the minority stake the company has in the free-to-play mobile game, and Nintendo asserted after its release that any gains the company would see from Pokémon Go’s profits would have a limited effect on its bottom line.

Letting go of the Seattle Mariners also helped Nintendo’s quarterly income. Nintendo paid $125 million for the baseball team in 1992, and maintains a 10 percent stake. When it sold off the majority of its shares in the Mariners by mid-August, Nintendo reported a $661 million profit.

These are the two biggest wins in an otherwise depressed earnings report. Wii U hardware sales decreased by 53 percent year-over-year, while software dropped by 33 percent. On Nintendo 3DS, the declines were smaller, and software posted minute gains over the same period in 2015, thanks to million-seller Kirby: Planet Robobot and the continued strength of Pokémon games. Sales of the popular amiibo line of figures also declined, as did those of downloadable content.

Overall, the company suffered an operating loss of 5.9 billion yen ($56 million) over the six-month period, compared to profits this time last year. This continues from its financial report in July, which also saw big sales drops and disappointing hardware sales across the board.

The hope is that the company’s new hardware will contribute to a rosier picture as next year approaches. The Nintendo Switch isn’t expected to launch until March 2017, however — right at the end of this fiscal year. Company president Tatsumi Kimishima told Japanese press today that shipments will top out around two million through the end of March, while reiterating that no more news on price, technical specifications or software is coming before 2017.

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