Pokémon GO and nostalgia-loving ‘90s kids have rocketed Nintendo back into both the cultural spotlight and a peak in stock prices.
In the two market days since Nintendo released their first augmented reality game, Nintendo’s stock has shot up over 25 percent. While kids, teens, and full-blown adults were out making real friends with the aid of augmented reality, Nintendo was raking in the (projected) dough, gaining an estimated $7.5 billion for the company. As far as the app game goes, Lyft, the second largest ride-hail app in the United States, was last valued around $5.5 billion. In other words, Pokémon GO’s contribution to the Nintendo Corporation is huge.
Although the investors — who may or may not be playing Pokémon GO instead of working — are excited, Nintendo isn’t the only one benefiting from the game. Niantic, a company owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet, is also pulling in the cash for creating the game, and The Pokémon Company is getting a cut as well.
But believe it or not, this is bigger than Pokémon. That’s right — bigger than the app that already has people going to church and discovering dead bodies. Bigger than the game that got almost as many daily active users than Twitter in just two days, according to SimilarWeb analytics. Pokémon GO is bigger than its addictive monster-catching gameplay because it proves that augmented reality is the inexpensive answer to the next big thing in gaming.
Nintendo isn’t an AR newb. The Nintendo 3DS currently has AR Cards that allow people to see beloved characters such as Mario, Link, and Kirby in a real-world environment. There are already a whole host of games that use AR Cards from Mario Party: Island Tour to nintendogs + cats: Golden Retriever & New Friends to Tetris.
But Pokémon GO is Nintendo’s first venture into phone-based AR. Nintendo got into free-to-play phone games (with in-app purchases) in March, and after their Pokémon GO’s success, there will surely be more on the way. Turning the phone into the gaming console everyone already owns has made billions for companies like SuperCell, which owns Clash of Clans.
Add that profitability to the inevitable AR takeover of daily life, and Nintendo has a winning formula for new game creation. So where will Nintendo hit AR next? Picture Mario jumping over Bowser’s barrels right in front of your computer, or Link shooting an arrow straight over your coffee cup. More games are coming (especially for the 3DS), and will get even better as the technology improves.
In the meantime, drain your battery and use up all of your data plan looking for those weird PokeStops. It’s wildly addicting, like no app ever was.