There's a new game taking the world by storm and it's called Pokémon GO. This latest Pokémon game has been released in a number of regions around the world including the United States of America (last week) and has already been grabbing at headlines. Pokémon GO is an augmented reality game based around flicking Pokémon Balls at monsters in order to capture and add them to your collection. Players locate a Pokémon monster on a live map and must travel to where it is. Once they are close to the monster, it appears on their screen and allows them to capture it. It sounds easy to pick up but difficult to complete. Cities and countries around the world are already experiencing a new wave of unaware Pokémon GO players heading to particular locations chasing a virtual monster, with some countries issuing statements asking players to look at where they are going, especially when crossing the street.
Pokémon GO is an important game for a number of reasons and one being that it could introduce a raft of new players into the concept of augmented reality: that is, of a game overlaying information over the real world. It could also be an important game for the company behind the title, Nintendo, which is pushing through with an internal reinvention and repositioning itself as a developer of mobile device software and rumoured hardware. Nintendo's stock value recorded a strong performance on Friday, gaining almost 10% on the back of the game's popularity. The hope here is that the game's in-app purchases will drive profits derived from the title.
Over the weekend, investors have contemplated the early success of Pokémon GO and there's been a further rise in the share price: the company's stock market valuation has gained approximately $8 billion, bringing the overall gain to or around one third since the market opened on Friday morning. We've seen how Pokémon GO is now the number one free application in the Apple App iTunes App Store, so in the short term this is positive. It is, of course, no guarantee of the longevity of the title and we will have to wait a number of weeks and months to see how the number of Pokémon GO players settles down. However, investors are already thinking beyond the Pokémon GO game and to what else Nintendo can manage. The initial response appears to be "they're back." Let's hope the rest of 2016 is as positive for Nintendo.