This week I feel vindicated and it’s all because of Pokemon GO. Yes, sorry. I tried to think of a column topic that didn’t involve the little monsters and people doing silly things, while walking down the street glued to their phone, but I failed. I’m sorry.
Anyway, back to the bit where I’m feeling smug about being right, not once, but twice.
This week, Pokemon GO proved that you should never underestimate Nintendo. I’m always saying that to people who predict the big N’s demise and shake their head at the idea of NX. Never, ever count them out because Nintendo always have something up their sleeve – namely, hugely successful brands that tug the nostalgia heart strings. And those are the ones that get people to spend LOTS of money.
This week, Nintendo’s shares rose 12.8% to ¥22,860 in Tokyo on Tuesday, adding £7bn to the company’s market value. That’s a six-year high for the company, which was still recovering from the flop that was the Wii U.
The latest figures suggest that Pokemon Go, the free-to-play app, is raking in $1.6 million a day from US iPhone users alone. Now consider the fact that the game is only, currently available in five countries, due to Nintendo’s staggered launch and the earning potential of Pikachu and friends is mind-boggling.
The second reason that I’m feeling smug is because the enormous success of Pokemon Go proves that augmented reality (AR) is more accessible, affordable and therefore commercially viable than virtual reality (VR), at least, at the moment.
This time last year, Nintendo was the last person to the mobile party, reluctantly bringing its IP to this new fangled platform. Fast-forward to July 2016 and the launch of Pokemon Go and you can’t move for hashtags, news headlines in mainstream and specialist media, as well as your non-gamer friends talking about how many battles they’ve had down the park.
In short, Nintendo has single-handedly exploded AR technology without even missing a beat. They’ve knocked the thing right out of the park. We just need to see how long Pokemon Go can sustain this level of enthusiasm. Considering the rest of the world is yet to paint the town with Pokemon, I suspect it’s set to run for a while, leaving Nintendo to clean up.
Remember kids, the winning formula of well-loved IP that draws on gamers childhoods, plus cutting edge technology, with built-in monetisation. It’s easy when you know how and you’re Nintendo.