News broke yesterday that the Pokémon Company will be collaborating with Nintendo Ltd. (NTDOY - Snapshot Report) and former Google (GOOGL - Analyst Report) subsidiary Niantic, Inc. to produce Pokémon GO, the first of approximately five mobile games Nintendo plans on releasing by 2017.
Per the Verge, “You may think it is a small number,” said former Nintendo CEO and President Satoru Iwata back in May when discussing the then new mobile gaming initiative, “but when we aim to make each title a hit, and because we want to thoroughly operate every one of them for a significant amount of time after their releases, this is not a small number at all and should demonstrate our serious commitment to the smart device business.”
The late great Iwata was not exaggerating about making “each title a hit.” Just watch the promotional video released for Pokémon GO.
Seriously, how can anyone not be excited for this mobile game! For the many of us who grew up playing Pokémon Red and Pokémon Blue on our transparent Atomic Purple Game Boy Colors or our Game Boy Pockets, to the younger generation of fans playing Pokémon Black and Pokémon White on their Nintendo 3DSs, bringing a version of these games into both the virtual and physical reality realms of life is borderline revolutionary, at least for the Pokémon fandom.
Nintendo is developing the Pokémon Go Plus, a companion smart-watch designed to vibrate and light up when you approach a wild Pokémon near your real world location. Once notified, you would then open the game on your phone, and engage with caution, especially if it is a swarm of wild Beebrill. According to the CEO of the Pokémon Company Tsunekazu Ishihara, via yesterday’s press conference, he and Iwata had been working on this project for roughly two years.
The game itself is being developed by Niantic. The company is known for creating Ingress, the augmented reality mobile game, which utilizes GPS technology to enable a science-fiction story that encompasses the entire world. Ingresscurrently has 12 million downloads worldwide.
Pokemon GO will be available for download by 2016 for iPhone and Android users via the Apple (AAPL - Analyst Report) App Store and Google Play, free of charge. There will be, however, in-app purchases that users can make. The companion smart-watch’s price has yet to be determined.
What Nintendo Should Be Pursuing
Pokémon GO is Nintendo’s inauguration into the mobile gaming world. Back in August of this year, a CMBC article was published detailing the spending of iPhone and Android phone users for in-app purchases for these free downloadable games. Some of the numbers are simply staggering.
According to the article, “The average spend for iPhone users on ‘Game of War—Fire Age’ was $398 during the period studied, more than twice the $165 the average Android user spent.” Furthermore, “Across all apps, iPhone users spend more on in-app purchases, too, $56.24, as opposed to $52.78 for Android users.” The article then later discusses the growth of social casino games like “Big Fish Casino,” “Doubledown Casino,” and “Slotomania” are “one of the fastest growing groups of gaming: revenue is expected to reach $3.5 billion in 2015, according to figures from Eilers Research,” which were “up from $2.8 billion in 2014 and $1.3 billion in 2012.”
These types of games where the app download is free and users can make in-app purchases, the model Pokémon GO is going to be, is a multibillion dollar industry that Nintendo wants to be a part of.
Nintendo is the original innovator of mobile gaming. The Game Boy redefined the concept of gaming, allowing gamers to play videos games without having to hook-up a system to a television. If Nintendo can figure out a way to combine the Game Boy and the cell phone to tap into the mobile gaming market, the company can, once again, spark another gaming revolution.
The image above is a concept design by Pierre Cerveau of a “Smart Boy.” These photos took the internet by storm back in late July (Google “Nintendo Smartphone Concept” and see the number of articles about this). This “Smart Boy” is a theoretical Android phone concept made by Nintendo.
The design is an homage to the original Game Boy, with the off white plastic shell and the 8-bit green screen. With a large display, front and rear facing cameras, and all the other ports and buttons, the Smart Boy has all the physical features of latest smart-phone models.
Another Game Boy-esque feature of the concept phone is the cartridge slot atop the device, allowing users to add different features, such as a larger battery, increased memory, or a 13-megapixal 3D camera.
Yet, the feature that sets the Smart Boy apart from all other smart phones is the “Game Bat” controller you see above. It is an accessory that can be plugged into the device allowing gamers to use a controller rather than using the touch screen to play the mobile game.
When it comes to contemporary video game consoles, Microsoft’s (MSFT - Analyst Report) Xbox One and Sony’s (SNE - Snapshot Report) Playstation 4 are the premier products compared to Nintendo’s Wii U. Unless the upcoming Nintendo NX is going to set a new bar for the gaming industry, Nintendo should be seriously considering this gamer’s pipe-dream that is the Smart Boy.
Think of the possibilities that Nintendo can capitalize on by combining a Game Boy with a smart-phone. Whether it is mobile gaming, music, or television, technology is pushing society to embrace streaming content from the internet. From per month subscriptions to outright purchasing a product, users can readily access and pay for practically anything with the use of one finger.
Just imagine the revenues Nintendo could possibly earn with developing a Smart Boy and complimenting the device with its own streaming media content platform, similar to the Netflix (NFLX - Analyst Report) model, where users can pay a monthly subscription to download or stream video games from Nintendo’s immense licensed gaming library. Envision playing classics like The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past, GoldenEye 007, Mario 64, Pokémon (insert whatever color), Mario Kart, and so many other classic games on the same device you make calls, send texts, receive emails, and stream videos.
Classic Nintendo games serve perfectly for mobile platforms. Nintendo should embrace their revolutionary spirit, as they have done so many times since the 1980s, and figure out a way to develop a variation of this Smart Boy. As of right now, however, myself, and the other hopefuls out there in the world who would have purchased a Smart Boy yesterday, just have to sit in the background, staring into our Game Boys, and catching our Pikachu, waiting for that revolutionary spirit to show.
(All images are from DigitalTrends.com - primary source being DesignByPierre.com)
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