What is Nintendo’s next move after Pokémon Go?

18 Jul 2016

Pokémon Go’s runaway success has given Nintendo the option to head down a new path. But will the company embrace the new world order?

Pokémon Go is already accepted to be one of the most successful releases since the dawn of the smartphone. It has proved so remarkably popular that its global roll-out has been heavily restricted due to ‘server issues’.

Nintendo, one of the companies with a major stake in the game, has seen its shares jump on the back of the artificial reality (AR) success story. And now, amid a confusing time for the Japanese gaming giant, this could pose a few corporate headaches, or opportunities.

That’s because Nintendo’s attitude towards mobile gaming is one of mild appreciation. It dipped its toe in the smartphone world earlier this year with Miitomo – a social networking app that has been downloaded more than 10m times.

 Pokemon Go

Zelda, Super Mario next?

Miitomo went well enough to get Nintendo thinking. Now, with Pokémon Go a visible success story in every country that it has been officially released in – and many more beyond – some are suggesting a future AR game taking in even better-known characters.

Noting Zelda and Super Mario Bros, Reuters suggests Nintendo shareholders want the company to go down this ultra-modern route.

“I hope they will now understand the power of smartphones,” said Seth Fischer, founder and chief investment officer at Oasis Management. “And, as a result, I hope this means there is a whole change in strategy.”

Earlier this month, rumours emerged that physical controllers built for smartphones were in the works.

“Physical controllers for smart device applications are available in the market and it is possible that we may also develop something new by ourselves,” Shinya Takahashi, director and GM of entertainment planning, said at Nintendo’s AGM.

Changing times

Takahashi noted that this was one of many ideas, and that developing action games that could work without a separate, tangible controller will also be looked at.

As long as the products are “Nintendo-like”, including apps for seniors, Takahashi seems pretty happy.

Now the phrase ‘Nintendo-like’ is immediately broader, taking in purely mobile games as well.

Only last week the company capitalised on this new wave of nostalgia with the launch of its latest gaming console – a retro NES console that comes with 30 of its classic games.

In its announcement, Nintendo said that the NES Classic is not an exact replica of the original, but will feature updated hardware, such as the ability to connect it to a TV via a HDMI cable. The console will cost $60 when it launches on 11 November.

Pokémon Go image via Matthew Corley/Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic