When the Tokyo Stock Exchange closed on Friday, July 15th, Nintendo’s stock had grown by over 70% in just seven days, reaching its highest value in over five years. Nintendo – long known for its gaming hardware – amazingly enough hasn’t even released a product of its own in that timeframe. The stock’s growth can instead be attributed to Pokémon GO, a mobile app released by The Pokémon Company, a joint venture co-owned by Nintendo.
As I wrote last week, Pokémon GO has been taking over the world since it launched. In just the last week, the game has been played everywhere from children’s hospitals to Central Park. The game has even made the news in some unexpected ways like a police station jokingly attempting to lure in wanted criminals or players finding multiple bodies or getting shot at. No matter where you turn, it seems like Pokémon GO will be there – especially if you turn to the App Store charts where the game is seeing unprecedented success.
While Pokémon GO‘s success in the short term is fantastic news for Nintendo and its shareholders, the mobile market is still very much a new frontier for the company. After more than 30 years in the video game hardware and software business, Nintendo had been hesitant to enter the mobile market and compete in the free-to-play space until recent years. What Pokémon GO seems to imply is that Nintendo has finally figured out how to make their own unique splash in mobile.
But what comes next for Nintendo? If Pokémon GO has shown us one thing, it’s that Nintendo’s IP will always have stronger mindshare than the hardware it manufactures. Characters like those from Pokémon, Mario Bros., and The Legend of Zelda appeal to an incredibly broad audience, much of which may not be interested in owning a Nintendo gaming console (or any gaming console at all).
While Nintendo has succeeded in capturing nostalgia-in-a-bottle with Pokémon GO, and they seem primed to do it again with the NES Classic Edition this November, its next foray into the console space is just around the corner with the NX launch in March 2017. While Nintendo hopes that its mobile apps like Pokémon GO will drive the market back towards its gaming hardware, they may only drive home the reality that Nintendo’s audience has moved away from its gaming consoles to the mobile space – but they’re waiting for Pikachu, Mario, and Link to join them.
What does Pokémon GO mean for Nintendo’s console business? Can the two thrive in harmony or is this the end for dedicated gaming hardware made by Nintendo? Let us know what you think in the comments!