The insanely popular mobile game has helped Nintendo double its market cap to $42.5 billion in less than two weeks, Reuters reported. Nintendo, which has its U.S. headquarters in Redmond, Wash., and saw its stock spiked another 14 percent Tuesday, is now more valuable than rival Sony, which is valued at around $39 billion.
Pokemon Go originally launched in the U.S., Australia, and New Zealand, and has since expanded to more than 30 countries, with the app finally arriving in Japan this week. The game lets players hunt for virtual creatures from Nintendo’s Pokémon universe in real physical space, thanks to the augmented-reality and GPS capabilities that are available on today’s smartphones. It has attracted millions of users and quickly occupied the top spot in Apple and Android app stores. Some writers have gone as far as calling Pokemon Go “world-changing.”
The development is fascinating because Nintendo has, for years, resisted the rise of smartphones, focusing instead on games for its own Wii consoles and Nintendo 3DS handheld devices. Nintendo launched its first smartphone app Miitomo earlier this year, to a tepid response from gamers, but the reaction to Pokémon Go proves the value of bringing a beloved Nintendo franchise to the phone.
Generation App podcast: The Pokémon Go craze, explained
The game was created by developer Niantic in partnership with Nintendo and The Pokemon Co. Nintendo has a large stake in Pokemon and works closely on the flagship franchise. The big question is the long-term financial impact on Nintendo, which analysts say could be slow to materialize. The app is free to download for Android and iOS, but it also features in-app purchases.
An endless list of companies are trying to cash in on the Pokemon craze, whether it’s Lyft offering discounted rides to “PokeStops” or T-Mobile giving free data to subscribers playing Pokemon Go. Even presidential nominee Hillary Clinton is using the game to help attract young voters.
You can also expect brick-and-mortar businesses to start promoting Pokemon-related deals. Gizmodo reported that McDonald’s will ink a partnership with Pokemon to turn its restaurants into PokeStops or “gyms.”