Pokemon CEO Hints at Big Plans for Games on Smartphone and Switch
It’s been more than a year since Pokémon Go took the world by storm, getting people to wander outside and look for virtual monsters with their smartphones. According to Bloomberg, the game became a social phenomenon, with adults and children gathering in parks and public areas to train their Pokémon.
The fad is still going strong, with new characters and upgrades being added regularly. More than 65 million people use the app each month, although it’s down from a peak. In the U.S., the game is among the 20 most-lucrative apps this year, holding the top spot for about a week in July.
For the companies behind Pokémon Go, Niantic, Pokémon and Nintendo, the game has been an earnings bonanza, with revenue estimates ranging from $1.5 billion to $2 billion. Nintendo has reported 23.6 billion yen ($215 million) in income from equity stakes in other companies, the bulk of which came from its partial ownership of the Pokémon company.
Tsunekazu Ishihara, chief executive officer of Tokyo-based Pokémon, says this is just the beginning. He said he has bigger plans for Pokémon Go, including the ability to trade the virtual monsters and battle one-on-one, key features seen in other Pokémon-based games. While others have mentioned these might be coming, this is the first confirmation by the company itself. By adding new elements to the game, Ishihara is betting that people will keep coming back to play to discover new things.
In June, Ishihara revealed that a role-playing Pokémon game was under development for the Switch. A 16-second clip of the announcement caused Nintendo’s stock price to jump as much as 3 percent in U.S. trading, as investors bet the new title will boost Switch sales.