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Nintendo CEO Optimistic That Switch Consoles Will Hit Sales Goal

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Nintendo plans to release ’Super Smash Bros. Ultimate’ in December. It is a big franchise that may raise hardware sales too.


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OSAKA, Japan—Nintendo Co.’s chief executive said the company was on track to sell 20 million Switch consoles this fiscal year as planned, despite falling expectations from analysts, who cited a dearth of new hit games.

The Kyoto-based company sold just over five million units of the console in the first half of the fiscal year, which ended Sept. 30.

“The Switch’s momentum has been in line with our expectations,” Chief Executive Shuntaro Furukawa said at a news conference. “While the 20 million goal is not an easy target to achieve, the year-end holiday season is when we get the largest revenue.”

Analysts generally believe Nintendo will fall short. Goldman Sachs analyst Masaru Sugiyama has forecast Nintendo will sell 16.47 million units in the fiscal year, which ends in March, saying software planned for this year is attractive to core Nintendo fans but won’t expand the base.

The biggest Nintendo titles released this year include “Mario Tennis Aces,” which was introduced in June and sold 780,000 copies in the July-September quarter, and “Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze,” which was released in May and sold 270,000 copies in the same period.

Analysts have also cited a disappointing start for Nintendo Labo kits, which contain cardboard sheets that can be crafted into toys such as a fishing rod, dollhouse or mini piano and combined with the Switch.

Nintendo said it would nurture Labo for long-run success. Last week the company said it would bring the kit to selected elementary-school classrooms in the U.S.

Nintendo plans to release Pokémon games next month and “Super Smash Bros. Ultimate” in December. Both are big franchises that may raise hardware sales, too.

On smartphone games, Nintendo teamed up with Japanese game app developer Cygames Inc. to release a role-playing game called “Dragalia Lost” at the end of September, a new franchise for Nintendo. Mr. Furukawa said the game was off to a good start.

While Nintendo missed analysts’ earnings forecasts for the July-September quarter, its operating profit for the period was up 30% from a year earlier to ¥30.9 billion ($274 million). Revenue was flat at ¥220.7 billion.

Write to Takashi Mochizuki at takashi.mochizuki@wsj.com

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