Nintendo promises more smartphone games – two or three every year – after Pokemon Go’s success

The worldwide triumph of Pokemon game has spurred the Japanese consumer electronics giant to aim for a steady roll-out of mobile games in the next couple of years

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 08 February, 2017, 8:03pm
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2017, 5:27pm

Nintendo is to deliver more content for smartphones, following last year’s success of Pokemon Go, a smartphone augmented-reality game that boosted sales of other Pokemon games as well as the 3DS handheld consoles, according to the company’s president Tatsumi Kimishima.

The worldwide Pokemon Go craze last summer helped Kyoto-based Nintendo, which creates Super Mario games, report a better-than-expected October-December profit of 64.7 billion yen (US$569 million), more than twice its same-period profit in the previous year.

The Japanese video-game maker also maintained its original target of selling 2 million Switch consoles in the first month after its launch, despite speculation it might aim higher because of brisk pre-orders.

The Switch, the first major hybrid console-and-hand-held game device, goes on sale on March 3. It costs US$299.99, more expensive than many had hoped.

But Kimishima says the company does not want to go into the red.

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Game makers often keep prices low, even taking a loss on each machine sold, in hopes of boosting sales and making up for the loss later with game software sales.

Nintendo also says production of the Wii U home console had ended for all markets. The company had said earlier it planned to end Wii U production but had not given a date.

Nintendo says that to sustain profitability it will deliver a steady roll-out of various games, including games for smartphones, at two to three a year.

Kimishima says interest is growing for Pokemon among young children, including those who had never played the game before but were now playing with parents who grew up with Pokemon. Making Nintendo games available on smart devices is also wooing younger players, he says.

“Whether we can get them to buy the second or third game software is our challenge,” Kimishima says.

Nintendo resisted switching to games on smartphones for years, fearing that could erode sales of its own consoles. But it made its big push into mobile with Super Mario Run for the iPhone, which launched late last year. It has recorded 78 million downloads, according to the company.

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Nintendo game designer Shigeru Miyamoto says he had not anticipated such a strong reception for Pokemon Go because responses were lukewarm when he showed it at events ahead of its launch. Once it went online “the reaction was huge”, he says. The game was only launched in South Korea last month.

“This is so unpredictable,” Miyamoto adds. “Smartphones are an important part of our business.”