A smartphone app just did what years and years of “traditional” video games couldn’t: make Nintendo hot again.
The Japanese game-maker’s stock has soared since last week’s release of “Pokémon Go,” a smartphone game that encourages players to explore real-world locations to find and capture monsters. As markets closed in Tokyo Monday, Nintendo’s value was about $28 billion, according to Google Finance, and the value of the company’s shares increased by about 25 percent from the start of the day.
In human-speak, that means Pikachu just made a whole mess of money for Nintendo.
Nintendo stock hasn’t been this high since last year, when the company first announced it would finally develop smartphone games.
“Pokémon Go” and Nintendo actually have a somewhat complicated relationship. Strictly speaking, the game isn’t a Nintendo title: It’s a collaboration between The Pokémon Company, which Nintendo partially owns, and Niantic, a company backed by Google.
Still, the success of this app signals that Nintendo may finally be ready to seize the smartphone era. Mobile gaming is an increasingly valuable market, but Nintendo has mostly stuck with traditional gaming systems like the Wii U and 3DS. It wasn’t until this spring that the company released a smartphone game, “Miitomo,” a sort of virtual dollhouse that’s proven to be a financial disappointment.
And the success of “Pokémon Go” may bolster upcoming releases on Nintendo’s 3DS handheld. “Pokémon Sun” and “Pokémon Moon,” more traditional entries into the franchise, are expected this November.