This has been a phenomenal year for the Pokémon franchise, given the tremendous success of Pokémon Go, which is expected to have players running out to catch them all once again today, as Niantic reveals a new set of Pokémon creatures that will be added to the roster. This is in addition to how Sprint became the first US partner for Pokémon Go, turning more than 10,500 nationwide Boost Mobile and Sprint at RadioShack locations into PokéStops and Gyms. So, players already have a destination to discover the new Pokémon to add to their collections.
The 20th anniversary of Pokémon is certainly one well worth celebrating, especially since Pokémon Go has led to the success of Pokémon Sun and Moon on the Nintendo 3DS handheld gaming console, which has been losing ground to mobile devices for years. The Pokémon Company International reported that launch day sales exceeded 10 million units, a 150 percent increase from the last Pokémon games (Omega Ruby and Alpha Sapphire in 2014), making them the best selling titles in Nintendo 3DS history. Not only is the franchise turning things around for the 3DS, but it could also mean success for other augmented reality games and devices.
But how impactful is the long-term success of the franchise? To understand what Pokémon’s success means to some of Nintendo’s other products, [a]listdaily spoke with SuperData Research CEO, Joost van Dreunen.
Super Mario Run releases for Apple devices this week, but with a controversially high price tag of $9.99. We asked van Dreunen if the success of the Pokémon games on 3DS could influence the plumber’s success on mobile, and he replied: “The success of Pokémon Sun/Moon will have a positive albeit moderate impact on the expected sales of Super Mario Run, because it keeps Nintendo and all of its major IP top-of-mind.”
Although Super Mario Run is expected to be a standalone success on mobile, Nintendo clearly hopes that the attention gained on mobile devices will lead to console sales, where players will have “deeper” game experiences. Specifically, Super Mario Run and Pokémon Go should keep Nintendo in people’s minds when the Nintendo Switch releases in the spring. However, van Dreunen explained that the recent success of Sun and Moon did not put the 3DS handheld back on the map compared to mobile devices. “With the announcement of the Switch for early 2017, many prospective customers will probably hold onto their money until then, and more likely extend the lifecycle of the current audience,” he said.
On the other hand, 3DS users have a strong likelihood of becoming early Switch adopters. “The Switch is an effort by Nintendo to merge its home console and handheld into a single device,” said van Dreunen. “Early indicators suggest that there exists a strong overlap between the current consumer base that owns a 3DS and the prospective Switch audience.”
The larger question is whether or not this year’s success of the Pokémon franchise can be repeated, since the 20th anniversary celebration and the launch of Pokémon Go are both unique events. Van Dreunen expressed optimism for the brand’s continued growth.
“Pokémon will continue to be a strong brand for years to come,” he said. “It is currently valued at around $2.1 billion in terms of its ability to generate revenues across all of the games and licensed properties. Given the recent successes and the upcoming lineup, that is not likely to change any time soon.”
So, what’s the secret to the ongoing success of Pokémon after 20 years? “Its ability to cross-promote itself across different media types (TV shows, film, games and card games) in combination with its extensive history has allowed the franchise to develop an incredibly strong emotional relationship with many consumers,” said van Dreunen. “Moreover, as people look for quality content on mobile devices, it is uniquely positioned to benefit from a generation that grew up on the franchise and now are adults with the spending ability to match.”