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The Impact of Pokémon Go

Pokémon Go is a game changer, there’s no denying it. The augmented reality mobile app has got people glued to there phone’s desperately trying to catch ‘em all. It sounds an overstatement to say that it has changed society, but people are walking round in groups trying to catch digital critters like never before. People are quitting their jobs, finding dead bodies and even using it to spread religion. This societal change is evident.

Society and behavioural changes are not however, the only impacts of Pokémon Go. Perhaps the biggest, is the impact on Nintendo’s ever fluctuating share price. Upon the US launch of Go, Nintendo’s share price reached a 25 year high on the Japanese stock market, eclipsing the share price at the launch of huge releases, such as the 3DS and the first launch of the Wii back in 2006. It’s the highest that Nintendo shares have been since the launch of the Famicom. Remember that?

A graphical representation of 5 years of fluctuating Nintendo stock. Guess where the Pokémon Go launch is...

Now Nintendo can interpret this meteoric rise in two ways. Firstly, they can let it add to their egos, make them think “We’ve still got it, we’re fine on our own”. Well this is partially true, Nintendo do still have it from a software point of view, in fact they never lost it. Mario, Zelda, Pokémon, have always been and will always be massive sellers. Where their hardware standards have dropped to almost comical levels, first party development for these platforms has never deviated from gold standard.

Secondly, Nintendo can use this as a wake up call, and finally see the true financial potential of branching out their development on to other platforms. Those aforementioned massive sellers, would reach whole new sales levels when outsourced to say, 50 million PS4 consoles.

Pokémon Go has already surpassed 15 million downloads in the US alone. To put that in perspective, as of February 2016 Nintendo have sold just over 12 million Wii U consoles wordlwide. One app surpassed the number of home consoles sold in almost three and half years in just one week. Wii U’s best selling title was Mario Kart 8, reaching 7.5 million copies, even accounting for 82% of the sales of Wii U that it boosted around it’s launch - yet is still a fraction of the sales of Pokémon Go…

Mario Kart 8: The Wii U's best seller to date.

The demand for Nintendo games on just one other platform is bordering on the unprecedented, and is an absolute gold mine for Nintendo. Imagine, if you will, the monetary potential of a Zelda game built for the PS4 from the ground up, Super Mario Bros on your iPhone, Metroid on the Vita.

I really hope that the success of Pokémon Go leads to the eventual expansion of Nintendo’s back catalog to other devices. Square Enix have done it with the Final Fantasy back catalog, to great aplomb. It would be baffling for Nintendo not to tap into this gold mine.

It’s no secret that Nintendo are struggling in comparison to their affluent history. Porting games to other platforms - both consoles and mobile devices - in my opinion, could keep them profitable effortlessly. And that’s where Nintendo deserve to be. Everyone has nostalgic memories of Nintendo (there’s a reason Go chose to use the original 150 Pokémon). They’ve developed some of the all time greatest games, and that creativity deserves to be output into an environment in which it can thrive.

Pokémon Go has gone some way to showing that to thrive, these titles need to break free from the shackles of Nintendo’s antiquated hardware.

If you haven’t already, be sure to grab Pokémon Go from the App Store.