‘Pokemon GO’ is a phenomenal success

Pokemon GO
Niantic Inc, the makers of Pokemon Go, raises $245 million in Series C

Until Pokemon GO, a mobile game, was launched just over a week ago, Nintendo had taken every opportunity to say its main focus was still gaming consoles, and games for smartphones were just a means to lure more people to them.

The phenomenal success of Pokemon GO and the surge in Nintendo Co’s market value by $17 billion in just over a week has been seized upon by one of its most vocal investors to press for a change of strategy at the company.

According to the report, Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer at Oasis Management, is one of Asia’s best known hedge fund managers and has long been a small but loud shareholder. Encouraged by the success of mobile games like “Candy Crush”, he has campaigned for years for the Japanese console maker to develop and sell games for platforms run by Apple and Google.

The next focus with Nintendo is  monetizing the rest of their 4,000 patents for mobile gaming, multi-player gaming.  I think they could be making 30 to 60 billion yen ($290 million to $570 million) annually from licensing.

Fischer has described Oasis as an advisor to entities that own Nintendo shares and a shareholder. The fund’s direct holding is not listed among the company’s largest investors.

Nintendo President Satoru Iwata last year cautioned against hoping for too much change at the company. The expansion into smartphone games was “not because we have lost our enthusiasm or prospects for the console business”, he said at the time.

Pokemon GO is on track to be the first mobile game to break the $4 billion-per-year wall, beating out Candy Crush Saga and Supercell’s Clash of Clans, according to Macquarie Research. But the impact to Nintendo’s bottom line could be minimal because of shared ownership, as little as 3 percent of net profit in the year to next March.

Niantic declined to comment on the future of its relationship with Nintendo, although it credited Pokemon’s unique appeal for the game’s success.

Niantic CEO John Hanke told media that “It’s been wonderful to be able to combine our philosophy for these kinds of games with the powerful affinity that people have for Pokemon.

But analysts say the craze signals the vast money-making opportunities available for Kyoto-based Nintendo – when it eventually brings out more serious hits.

“Over the last decade they never compromised on the software side. That’s why they’ll blow everybody out of the water once they start take iOS and Android more seriously than they do now,” Toto said. “The successes of Pokemon Go will open the eyes of executives in Kyoto. This is unprecedented.” There are no signs, however, that will happen soon.

Of the four mobile games that Nintendo has promised to launch this financial year through March, two are set to be Animal Crossing and Fire Emblem – no sign of Mario nor Donkey Kong, at least not yet.

(with agency inputs)

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