Nintendo's biggest shareholder loses $312 million

Posted by Mark Raby

What a difference a day can make.

After Nintendo cut its profit forecast earlier this week, it's believed the man who owned more Nintendo stock than anyone else lost 24.2 billion yen in the value of his portfolio. That equates to roughly $312 million.

And it all happened in the span of one day. Hiroshi Yamauchi, who used to be the president of Nintendo and is now a private investor, owned about 10% of the company as of March 31, or about 14.17 million shares.

The profit forecast was slashed after Nintendo essentially admitted it completely mishandled the way its most recent product, the 3DS, was introduced to the market. Launching in a historically off time for the games industry, the 3DS was released with an unremarkable collection of titles.

Even among the Nintendo die-hard fans, it was hard to justify buying the system when there was no sign of Mario, Yoshi, Zelda, Pokemon, or Donkey Kong to be found. Instead, the headline launch title was Super Street Fighter IV 3D - a remake of a game that had fairly recently already been released on other platforms.

As a result, Nintendo's current president Satoru Iwata has voluntarily agreed to cut his hefty salary in half. Iwata, who has humbly admitted to multiple managerial mistakes over the last couple months, reportedly made around $770,000 last year.

But as more familiar titles start making their way to the 3DS, there is still one huge question - do consumers really want glasses-free 3D gaming? I was at a recent video game event in New York City where I got to test out a bunch of upcoming 3DS titles, and the one thing that stood out more than anything was all the 3DS demo units had the 3D slider set completely off. It's as if the publisher didn't care about the 3D effect, or knew that the media and analysts in the room didn't care.

Either way, it's hard to get consumers excited about 3D when the people peddling the games don't even want to show it off. And so begins a potentially huge downward spiral for Nintendo. The company has come back from greater faults before, but after seeing such a meteoric rise over the last five years, it's such a stark contrast to see Nintendo struggling so much right now.