Nintendo Go-ing places now after a mobile U-turn
WITH Pokemon-mania sweeping the planet, Nintendo's nascent shift into mobile gaming has proved a massive hit, vindicating the Japanese videogame giant's decision to unshackle itself from a long-standing consoles-only policy.
Since its release last week, smartphone game Pokemon Go has been winning legions of fans around the world.
It has not been released in Japan yet but Pokemon franchise creator Nintendo is reaping the rewards as its Tokyo-listed shares skyrocket.
The stock price was up nearly 60 per cent in just four sessions as of Tuesday.
That has boosted Nintendo's market value by billions of dollars and underscored how investors see the game as crucial to its fledgling migration to mobile devices.
The free app was adapted to the mobile Internet age by US-based Niantic Labs, spun out of Google last year.
"Investors have big expectations that Pokemon Go will open a new chapter in Nintendo's future growth," said Takashi Oba, a senior strategist at Oka-san Securities in Tokyo.
In March, the Kyoto-based creator of Super Mario and Donkey Kong released its first mobile game Miitomo - a free-to-play and interactive game that allows users to create avatars - as it tries to compete in an industry that has increasingly moved online.
That followed the firm's announcement last year that it was teaming up with Japanese mobile specialist DeNA to develop games for smartphones based on its popular characters.
"Markets are thinking that since Pokemon Go is a big hit, Nintendo's original smartphone games will also sell," said SMBC Nikko Securities analyst Eiji Maeda.
The mobile strategy marked a U-turn for a company that had resisted the move for years.
But its balance sheet suffered and Nintendo's Wii U console failed to match the popularity of the original.
Nintendo president Satoru Iwata, who died of cancer last year at 55, was a firm backer of the consoles-only view.
But months before he died, he acknowledged that consoles alone were not the future.