At an open day held recently at a Japanese high school, kids made posters introducing their country: the highest mountain, the most characteristic flower, and the most famous person.
One Japanese student wrote: “The Prime Minister is the most famous person in Japan, because he decides everything”. Another Japanese student wrote: “Pikachu is Japan’s most famous person, because everybody loves Pikachu”. Which of the two Japanese students knows more about his own country?
As per the latest report from Eurotechnology Japan, Pokémon character developer The Pokémon Company estimates the global market for Pokémon characters to be US$ 48 billion.
Pokemon Go is great – but will it bring another Nintendo boom as in 2009? or even exceed 2009?
Google spin out Niantic Labs is specialized on augmented reality games. In a previous game, Ingress, players selected about 15 million memorable locations globally. Niantic picked about 5 million of these crowd source generated locations, placed characters out of 740 Pokémon characters at such Pokéstops. Using smartphones, GPS, cameras and their avatars, players hunt Pokémon characters placed at Pokéstops, bring them to arenas/gyms and let their Pokémon characters fight for arenas/gyms. Thats just the beginning, and we can imagine many ways to expand this basic game structure, for example Pokéstops and Gyms sponsored by stores or corporations.
Pokémon Go’s success is also significant, because the fundamentally Japanese Nintendo and The Pokémon Company are overcoming the Japan-Only Galapagos Syndrome by cooperating with Google and San Francisco based Google spin-out Niantic. At the same time, Pokémon Go is also an indication of the power Nintendo can achieve in the smart phone sector. Will Nintendo dethrone current smart phone game kings Mixi and Gung-Ho in Japan?
Japanese companies have created many of the global game genres, platforms and characters, and represent a US$ 50 billion industry sector – far higher still if Pachinko and Pachislot are included.
With consumer focus shifting from dedicated game platforms such as Nintendo’s Wii or DS, Sony’s Playstation or Microsoft’s Xbox to applications or online games on smartphones, Japan’s traditional game companies are facing unprecedented disruption, as shown in the figure above: three representative new game companies combined exceed all traditional game companies in operating income.
Most established game companies, including Nintendo and SONY, see an erosion of business, while at the same time new a large number of new game industry startups are rapidly growing and filling the space vacated by traditional game companies.
So while the kids in Japan are busy figuring who is more famous, Pokémon Go comes as a shot in the arm for the Japanese Games Industry and gives the industry the confidence to scale greater heights.
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