Nintendo lucked out with Pokémon Go

Everyone’s excited for Nintendo and the days following the release saw Nintendo’s shares rise by over 25 percent. And why not? Nintendo owns Pokémon. Right? Right?

You’ll be a very rare breed of person indeed if you haven’t noticed the Pokémon Go madness taking over the world these past few days. At last count, the number of active users look set to challenge Twitter’s numbers.

Everyone’s excited for Nintendo and the days following the release saw Nintendo’s shares rise by over 25 percent. And why not? Nintendo owns Pokémon. Right? Right?

Yes, Nintendo does own the Pokémon brand and it was their games that kicked off Pokémania in the early 1990s. However, it’s only the millennials who truly remember Pokémon as it originally was.

Pokémon Go is a collaboration between 4 companies

Pokémon Go, while bearing the Pokémon brand, isn’t exactly a Nintendo game. It’s a game made with the collaboration of 4 companies. Namely, Nintendo, Game Freak, Creatures and Niantic. As ArsTechnica points out, Nintendo does receive praise for allowing a third-party developer to use their brand name and they have invested some money in the game.

Unfortunately, it’s also been clear from the start that Nintendo hasn’t had much interest in Pokémon Go. They’ve never really spoken about the game other than to acknowledge that it exists. Their real efforts, before Pokémon Go at least, were focused on DeNA and Miitomo. Nintendo’s also shunned mobile games in the past, stating that they’ll lose their identity. They also don’t actually intend to bring their flagship games to mobile. Not yet anyway.

Kids don’t play Mario anymore

I would argue that by missing the mobile revolution entirely, Nintendo’s already lost its identity. At its core, Nintendo is still the same company, their games are still stellar and Super Mario and Zelda are still legends, but these are games that only people of a certain age really remember. How many kids have you seen playing Mario or Zelda? They’re a shrinking minority.

Nintendo’s declining fortunes this past few years can almost entirely be attributed to their lack of presence in the mainstream market. Nobody’s going to want a Wii if they don’t know how good Nintendo’s games actually are.

Would your kid want to watch a Mickey Mouse cartoon with Kung Fu Panda around?

Pokémon Go is just another Ingress clone

If you’re a fan of Nintendo, you’ll know that Nintendo’s always had a history of making great, refined and engaging games. There’s a lot of effort that’s put into the design behind those titles.

Pokémon Go isn’t bad, but it’s only riding on a wave of nostalgia and hype. The game is heavy on the system, packed to the gills with bugs and isn’t that different from Ingress. In fact, strip the Pokémon branding out of the game and you’d have just another Ingress clone that may or may not have even come into existence.

Nintendo needs to pitch in

Nintendo has lucked out with Pokémon Go. They didn’t expect it to be as big a deal as it currently is. Reports are also pouring in that the game is earning about $1.6 million a day. If Nintendo was reluctant at first, they shouldn’t be now. Niantic has shown Nintendo (and the world) the true power of Pokémon and nostalgia and Nintendo needs to shed their inhibitions and dive right in.

I say it again, Pokémon Go is a bad game. Nintendo can fix that. It’s popular now but once the hype dies down, it’ll go the way of Ingress. That in itself isn’t so bad, Ingress has managed 14 million downloads and months of popularity after all, but Pokémon Go has the potential to be so much more.

Please don't waste this opportunity, Nintendo.

Note: The original story incorrectly stated that Mickey Mouse and Kung Fu Panda were IPs of the same company. The article has been updated to reflect the changes. Apologies for the error.

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