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>Nintendo profits up nearly 50 percent on sales of $16 billion as Wii sells 18 million units.

>With Mario Kart Wii reaching the top of the UK sales charts in its first week of release, the Wii and DS continuing to rule the hardware sales charts, and a multimillion-selling US debut for Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Nintendo has had plenty of good financial news lately. Further evidence of that arrived today, as the company reported “record results in both net sales and income” for its most recent financial year. In a separate statement, the company also confirmed the release of Super Smash Bros. Brawl for Europe on June 27, 2008.

Nintendo says it wants to be the games company that “puts smiles on the faces of people of all ages and genders,” and following its financial statement today, there are likely grins all around at the Mario Factory headquarters. The company has reported that net sales for the year ending March 31, 2008, were $16.2 billion, up 73 percent on the previous year. This resulted in a net income of $2.5 billion for its 2008 fiscal year ended March 31, up 47 percent on the previous year.

Both hardware and software have served up results that are bound to please Nintendo’s accountants. The Wii console sold 18.61 million units worldwide during the last fiscal year, which amounts to 24.5 million units since its release. In its forecasts for April 2008 to March 2009, Nintendo says it will sell 25 million further Wii consoles worldwide.

Wii software sales were bolstered by the success of Wii Fit in Japan, where the fitness training programme shifted 1.85 million copies. Super Smash Bros. Brawl sold 4.85 million units in the US and Japan, with Super Mario Galaxy and Mario Party 8 also highlighted as major successes. Nintendo’s statement says that the number of lifetime million-selling titles for the Wii went up from five to 26 during the fiscal year. The company will also roll out WiiWare in the US on May 12, with a European launch following on May 20.

The Nintendo DS handheld was also crucial to the company’s financial success. More than 30 million units were sold worldwide in the past year, taking the lifetime number over 70 million. Fifty-seven titles are now million-sellers, up from 30 the previous year.

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