2016 is proving to be a resurgence year for Nintendo with the announcement of a new Legend of Zelda game at E3 and the upcoming release of a miniature NES console. But these pale in comparison with the frankly ridiculous success of Pokémon GO.
Pokémon’s success is blasting off again
Since it’s initial launch in the US on July 6th, the game has proven more popular an app than Snapchat or Tinder, and has approached Twitter’s daily user count.
This success is reflected in the massive 50% jump in Nintendo’s share price.
The news hasn’t all been good, however. Servers are constantly falling over, unable to keep up with demand, small neighbourhoods unlucky enough to have numerous Pokéstops are flooded with thousands of unruly players, and – worst of all – Pokéfans are accidentally discovering that walking for miles at a time counts as exercise.
A Ghastly spotted near Nottingham’s famous Left Lion
Did you know our world is widely inhabited by devices called smartphones?
The move to mobile is a big shift for Nintendo, who have previously resisted smartphones in favour of their own hardware, for good reason. Nintendo have always pioneered portable gaming, and releasing their first-party games exclusively on their own hardware allows them to ensure compatibility, control the end-to-end manufacturing process, and take advantage of innovative features like 3D viewing and dual-screen play.
But unleashing the world of Pokémon, arguably Nintendo’s most valuable IP, onto smartphones comes with advantages of its own. Pokémon, as it stood before GO, was restricted to those who invested in a Nintendo console. Compare Wii U (12.8m) and 3DS (58.9m) sales figures with smartphone sales (1.4 billion in 2015 alone), and you’ll see why this move makes sense.
Mobile also gives Nintendo and Niantic (the developers) more flexibility in the future of Pokémon GO. Bug fixes and updates can be seamlessly distributed to players via the app stores, and new features like PvP Pokébattles (please?) can be introduced later, not to mention the constant income stream from Pokécoin microtransactions.
Our designer Gemma found a Bulbasaur on her desk!
The Future of AR
After Google’s failed foray into Augmented Reality with Glass, and Niantic’s own very limited success with Ingress, Pokémon GO is the first globally successful application of AR.
Hopefully we’ll see Nintendo investing more into mobile as a platform, and further instances of Augmented Reality as a commercially viable feature.
If you’re feeling the AR Poké-hype, check out our Augmented Reality services.