I believe the phrase is a day late and a dollar short, although in this instance it’s a day late and quite a lot of Yen short. You see, a few weeks back when I was looking at Pokémon GO for the first time you may recall I mentioned I could see myself talking about this for the rest of the month and lo’ and behold that’s exactly what has come to pass. At the time though I set out a few topics that I wanted to cover and this week’s one was always set to be on the topic of Pokémon GO and more specifically… why is everyone getting excited for something Nintendo has done when Nintendo hasn’t actually created it?
So backing up a bit, if you’re not aware of what went on yesterday: Nintendo’s share price had rocketed with the release of Pokémon GO. Investors saw the pots of money the title was looking like raking in, and thought this bode very well for the share price. I think it’s worth using this GIF again at this point, as it is far too good not to.
A large number of outlets, tech, games and otherwise rushed to report this. Comment on if this means that Nintendo will get more into AR, and what other games will they bring to the table? What does this mean for the Nintendo NX? Will Nintendo finally embrace VR? All topics VRFocus actively avoided discussing I should note. Because everyone neglected to mention the rather obvious plumber’s hat-wearing elephant in the room – namely that Nintendo didn’t actually own the damn thing. So it struck some with great surprise yesterday when Nintendo noted in a statement linked to the Japanese launch of the game that, they neither developed nor own the title.
Niantic are the developers and whilst Nintendo do own a stake in the company, along with Google incidentally, they do not actually own the company itself. The good news here is that Niantic might actually start getting some the props due them which has so far been so earnestly flung Nintendo’s way. So a little bit of a silver lining for that company. But it doesn’t end there of course as the big thing that a lot of people, especially journalists for some reason flat out ignored was that, *ahem*, Nintendo doesn’t own Pokémon.
The Pokémon Company has been around for almost as long as the brand has (1998 versus Red and Blue‘s release date in 1996) and they are the custodians of the Pokémon brand. It owns everything about Pokémon in fact. And as the statement notes whilst it is an affiliated company for Nintendo and again one that it holds a stake it Nintendo the company doesn’t get any direct income from the game. Nintendo actually shares ownership of The Pokémon Company with both Creatures and Game Freak and at 32% – according to their press release – they don’t even own a controlling stake. So Nintendo came and pointed out the obvious and their value on the Tokyo Stock Exchange fell 17%. Which is a bit of a blow. They may even have to modify their financial forecasts because its more recent investors, those still in possession of shares anyway, still seem to think that this will dramatically improve Nintendo’s profitability.
All that aside, now that the world has remembered that The Pokémon Company exists, do I think the successes of Pokémon GO in any way change the opinion of Nintendo about VR or AR?
Nintendo have already set out its stall in terms of what it expects from virtual reality (VR) before it will go into it, and the same applies for augmented reality (AR). Nintendo simply aren’t going to change their mind, they have the stubbornness of a Japanese gaming company and aren’t going to change tact just because something associated with them has been a success in the field. There is a plan. They will stick to the plan. But what about the NX? Didn’t they push that back so they could look at VR? They certainly wanted to add more stuff to the NX but here’s the thing – Nintendo have been looking at VR for years. We know this and the statements about VR during the last few years haven’t exactly been 100% positive. Maybe the alleged handheld element will be a way of accommodating VR and AR but personally I just don’t see it.
Nintendo will do what Nintendo will do and will do it how they want to do it – and no amount of sacrificing spare Pidgeys will convince them otherwise.
This article was previously written by the author for VRFocus.